We remember – NorQuest College
November 09, 2017
On November 8, 2017 Canadians officially recognized Aboriginal Veteran’s Day, and with Remembrance Day just around the corner, NorQuest College would like to honour the brave people who fought in World War I and every other conflict that followed where Canadians rose to the call to protect our freedoms and liberties.
Sadly, for many First Nations people, putting their lives on the line to protect us all was not good enough to earn them the respect of their own country. Many Indigenous veterans returned to Canada after WWI heroes amongst their military brothers, family at home, and friends, but still without the right to be called Canadian.
Citizenship was something that all First Nations people were denied in 1918. At the end of the Great War they were still Wards of the State, unable to vote, restricted to living on reservations, and denied military pensions; non-Indigenous government “Indian” agents left to decide their futures.
In the spirit of truth and reconciliation, it is our privilege and duty to help raise awareness of the great achievements, sacrifices, and bravery displayed by millions of Canadians, even if, and perhaps especially because, they weren’t considered Canadian at the time of their service.
And to the millions more men and women of all backgrounds and cultures, who fought under our flag and the flags of other great nations, we have not forgotten.
NorQuest College honours you all and is deeply grateful and saddened that so many of our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers have had to endure the horrors of war so we may enjoy the fruits of peacetime.
We remember, and we are bound by honour to respect those who stand and fight for humanity.
Canada’s Indigenous warrior heroes
Some of Canada’s most decorated soldiers were First Nations members such as Francis Pegahmagabow who was a sniper and credited with killing 378 German soldiers and capturing 300 more during WWI:
Tommy Prince, who was one of Canada’s most decorated Canadian Soldiers who won 11 medals during his career and served in WWII and the Korean War. He was one of the few Canadians ever awarded the Silver Star and returned to Canada being unable to go back to his home due to enfranchising himself to join the Armed Forces and unable to access any of the Legion’s services. Men like Tommy and Francis are Canadian heroes who contributed greatly to the war efforts and until recently were often overlooked for what they gave to Canada during these times.
Here is a short video about Aboriginal Veteran’s Day:
Here is an article from Readers’ Digest about Cree Code Talkers from Alberta during WWII:
As well, here is a fantastic short documentary by a local Indigenous woman, Alex Lazarowich, about a Cree Code Talker in WWII