(Lheidli T’enneh Territory - Prince George, BC) – The BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) honours contributions made by First Nations on National Aboriginal Veterans Day, a significant and enduring time of the year dedicated to recognizing the sacrifices that have been, and continue to be made, and acknowledging the profound impacts on First Nations communities in British Columbia.
BCAFN recognizes the added significance of this day as Canada continues to engage in meaningful dialogue and action toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, including addressing systemic issues within the military and broader society. It serves as a poignant reminder of the need to recognize, celebrate, and support Indigenous veterans while also working towards healing, understanding, and unity as a nation.
Additionally, 2023's National Aboriginal Veterans Day embodies a call to uphold the commitments outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action, fostering a spirit of unity, respect, and gratitude for the invaluable service of Indigenous veterans.
Each year, we witness the growing recognition of First Nations veterans as communities install monuments and artwork, practice cultural ceremonies and initiate remembrance-based projects.
One such project, the Indigenous Legacy Project, included a group of Canadian, Indigenous and Dutch individuals who earlier this year worked to identify and mark the graves of Indigenous soldiers buried in cemeteries across the Netherlands. The Liberation of the Netherlands was Canada's last major contribution to helping the Allies to victory during the Second World War. More than one million Canadians served in the conflict with over 3,000 of them being Indigenous.
While thousands of Indigenous peoples have served in Canada’s military in past campaigns, many First Nations continue to enlist and actively serve the nation today in various roles and capacities.