Grand Chief Derek Fox laid a wreath to honour fallen warriors at Fort William’s Remembrance Day service at Anemki Wajiw, which was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Throughout the years, hundreds of our (citizens) have stepped forward in defence of Canada and its interests during two World Wars and conflicts around the globe,” Fox says in a Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Facebook posting.
“We must always remember and be thankful for the great sacrifice of those who have fallen and those who continue to serve today.”
Fox notes that his grandfather Matthew Sinclair, from Brokenhead Ojibway Nation in Manitoba, was a World War II veteran.
“Today we honour all our fallen warriors and our many (citizens) who continue this proud tradition of service in the Canadian Armed Forces, the Canadian Rangers and police services across our nations,” Fox says. “While there may still be restrictions on public gatherings due to COVID-19, we encourage everyone to take time to honour veterans, and those who continue to serve, by keeping them in our thoughts and prayers.”
Deputy Grand Chiefs Bobby Narcisse and Anna Betty Achneepineskum also attended Remembrance Day services, with Narcisse attending the national ceremony at Parliament Hill in Ottawa and Achneepineskum attending The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 287 service at Hollinger Park in Timmins.
“This Remembrance Day is an opportunity for us to remember many of our First Nation veterans who have served Canada in various conflicts over the years,” Narcisse says in a NAN Facebook posting. “It’s an opportunity to really remember and commemorate their service, and in many instances they gave up their own lives to preserve our peace and justice in Canada. This Remembrance Day we take some time at 11 o’clock to have a moment of silence to remember those who have fallen, to give our gratitude and to ensure that their lives will be remembered.”
Deputy Grand Chief Victor Linklater also recognized the importance of Indigenous Veterans Day on Nov. 8.
“Just remember our veterans that have fought on our behalf who secured our freedoms as First Nations people,” Linklater says in a NAN Facebook posting. “Great sacrifices were done and I just encourage … the citizens of NAN to never forget the sacrifices that they did so we could enjoy our freedoms today.”
Mattagami’s Gerry Martin, Elder-in-residence at Lakehead University, opened Lakehead University’s Indigenous Veterans Day ceremony at the Agora with a smudging ceremony and an address to the people in attendance on Nov. 8.
“I’m very glad that we’ve got this (Indigenous Veterans exhibit) display here,” Martin says, noting that it recognizes the contributions that Indigenous soldiers, both men and women, and support units made towards freedom in Canada.
“Our brothers and sisters in arms know what it feels like to be under fire in peacetime or wartime. Your innocence goes when you see somebody get hurt, accidentally or deliberately. I know from experience that every one of us that
went out and went in live fire, you just want to make it home, you want to get through it somehow.”
Martin says people who know a veteran will notice that there is something different about them when they come back from serving with the military.
“It’s very real and very painful,” Martin says. “I try not to remember on Remembrance Day but it comes up and I know it’s coming, and I think of my friends and colleagues that aren’t here anymore. It is a horrible thing, war. Zaagidwin, love, is better, and peace. Love children, love life, be grateful for all the good things that we have in this world and this life that you can live, Mino-Bimaadiziwin.”