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Fallen warriors called home through ceremony

Thursday November 3, 2005

On the fields of Europe, a then 17-year-old Lawrence Martin saw soldiers falling to their deaths in battles during the Second World War.

November 3, 2005: Volume 32 #22

“They fought for our freedom,” said the now 80-year-old Aboriginal Second World War veteran. “I lost so many friends overseas.”

Every Nov. 11, Martin remembers his friends and is thankful for their sacrifice.

“Life as we know it just wouldn’t be the same if it hadn’t been for them,” said the former infantryman who also served in the Korean War.

Martin was thankful a group of First Nation, Metis and Inuit spiritual Elders, ceremonial helpers, veterans and youth departed for Europe Oct. 26 to conduct a Calling Home Ceremony to invite spirits of fallen warriors to return to their homelands and rest with their ancestors in Canada.

The group participated in commemorative ceremonies in the Ypres area of Belgium and in Normandy, France to honour Canada’s war dead of the First and Second World Wars.

Spiritual Elders conducted a Calling Home Ceremony Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 at a military installation near Kemmel, Belgium.

While the sacred ceremony took place, the rest of the Canadian delegation, which included traditional performers, veterans, youth, a Canadian Forces contingent and RCMP contingent, members of national veterans’ and Aboriginal organizations, and parliamentarians, honoured Canadians who lost their lives in service and veterans during a ceremony of remembrance Oct. 28 at the Hill 62 (Sanctuary Wood) Memorial near Ypres.

The delegation also travelled to Normandy for a ceremony Oct. 30 at the Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery.

That afternoon, an Inukshuk created by Inuit Elder Peter Irniq was unveiled at the Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer to serve as a permanent marker of the journey.

On Nov. 1 the delegation participated in a ceremony at the Canadian St. Julien Memorial, near Ypres. At sunset, the entire delegation came together for the daily Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres.

The annual Remembrance Day ceremony at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial was the group’s last overseas event, before they returned to Canada to participate in Veterans’ Week in Ottawa.

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