THUNDER BAY – Since 2001, First Nations and all Canadians have been recognizing our own Remembrance Day on November 8 – three days before the international Remembrance Day. For those watching the November 11 Ceremonies in Ottawa, please note that our own Aboriginal Veterans Monument – unveiled in 2001 – is a few blocks down Elgin Street in Confederation Park.
Since the American Revolution (from 1775 – 1783) and the War of 1812—First Nations have willingly volunteered to fight and protect the freedoms and democracy of all peoples. Many served with great distinction and were recognized for their bravery and special contributions.
In times of war, the efforts of First Nations peoples have been proportionally higher than any other groups in Canada. Aboriginal Veterans Groups have estimated that more than 12,000 First Nation people voluntarily enlisted to serve in the First and Second World Wars as well as the Korean War.
As a result of the Jay Treaty, there are also many First Nation veterans who have served in the American military. In fact, Kettle and Stony Point First Nation Chief Tom Bressette and Mississaugas of the New Credit Chief Bryan Laforme are both Vietnam War veterans. Since 1990, many First Nation youth from northern Ontario to western Canada have participated in the Bold Eagle Program and have gone on to join the Canadian Armed Forces.
First Nations across Ontario will be taking the opportunity today and on Remembrance Day to acknowledge the contributions of First Nations people who have served their communities and their country. Please take time to remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.
Lest We Forget.
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day