Statement by the Prime Minister on Indigenous Veterans Day

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today issued the following statement on Indigenous Veterans Day:

“Today the Indigenous Veterans Day, we express our deepest gratitude to all First Nations, Inuit and Métis people who have served in the Canadian Armed Forces. On this day, we also remember those who never returned home and those whose lives – and the lives of their families – have been forever changed by conflict and war.

“For more than 200 years, Aboriginal peoples have been – and continue to be – an integral part of Canada’s military history. The major battles of the War of 1812 were won thanks to the contribution of the brave First Nations and Métis people. Over the past century, thousands of volunteers from Indigenous communities across the country enlisted to serve in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War and United Nations peacekeeping missions.

“During their service, a number of Aboriginal soldiers became specialized reconnaissance scouts and snipers due to their ability to adapt to different landscapes. During the Second World War, some First Nations soldiers earned the title of “code tellers” for secretly communicating and delivering military information in the Cree language. Code Talkers provided a unique service that helped protect our allies and win the war.

“Despite their service and sacrifices during these conflicts, many Indigenous veterans endured hatred and systemic racism during their service. When they returned to Canada, they did not receive the same benefits, the same honors and the same respect as non-Aboriginal veterans. The Government of Canada is working to ensure that all Indigenous service members and veterans receive the recognition and support they deserve – we owe them.

“The legacy of courage and service of Indigenous peoples continues today: more than 2,700 Indigenous members serve in the Canadian Armed Forces. We are grateful for their sacrifices and their contributions to Canada’s security and peace efforts at home and around the world – from missions in places like Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan in recent years, to of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Europe and in response to national emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Arctic patrols.

“We all have a duty to remember and honor the sacrifices of Indigenous peoples who answered the call to serve. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I encourage everyone to take some time today to honor Indigenous veterans and learn more about their past and current contributions to Canada’s proud military history.

“Let’s not forget that.”

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