CONGRESS OF ABORIGINAL PEOPLES HONOURS THE SACRIFICES OF ABORIGINAL VETERANS AT THE NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL IN OTTAWA
November 9, 2012 (Ottawa) Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief, Betty Ann Lavallée and National Vice-Chief, Ron Swain will take part in a wreath laying ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Sunday November 11, 2012 to honour those who served to protect our freedoms.
“On this day, I ask that we take a moment and reflect on the fact that Canada might not exist without the contributions made by Aboriginal Peoples who fought with the British in the War of 1812,” stated National Chief Lavallée. “It is now becoming clear that Aboriginal Peoples played a pivotal role in this battle and their fearlessness in combat was legendary.”
Historical documents reveal that Aboriginal people played an important role in the War of 1812, and that First Nations and Métis were active combatants in nearly every single major battle. However, throughout the traditional histories of the war, First Nations and Métis were either described as playing a "support role" in the military campaigns or not mentioned at all.
Ceremonies will begin at 10:56 am with the Governor General of Canada placing a wreath at the base of the War Memorial. The Governor General will be followed by the Silver Cross Mother, representing the Mothers of Canada, the Prime Minister, Speaker of the Senate, Minister of Veteran Affairs, Chief of the Defence Staff, representatives of the Youth of Canada, Dominion President of the Royal Canadian Legion, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and veteran groups, including those who represent the contributions made by Aboriginal Peoples.
“Those who fought in all wars to retain our values and freedoms must never be forgotten,” added National Vice-Chief Ron Swain. “In particular, the sacrifices made by our Aboriginal ancestors must be part of the public conscience in knowing that they fought for Canada and that they paid a significant price, so that future generations could live in freedom.”
Aboriginal People's participation in Canada's wars was also proportionately higher than any other group in Canada, at a time when they didn’t even have the right to vote. More than 7,000 served in the First and Second World Wars, and the Korean War. One Aboriginal Veterans’ group estimates that 12,000 Aboriginals served in the three wars.
“As a veteran myself, and as a granddaughter, daughter, wife, and mother of a veteran, I salute our Aboriginal veterans, and all veterans who fought to make a safer world for all our children,” concluded National Chief Lavallée. “Canada is in my view, is the best country in the world and will remain that way because of the sacrifices they made to protect our values, protect our way of life, and protect those who cannot protect themselves.”
National Chief Betty Ann Lavallée and National Vice-Chief Ron Swain will also lay a wreath at 10 am Sunday November 11, 2012, in Ottawa at the National Aboriginal Veterans Association Monument. The Monument is located at Confederation Park and was built to honour the sacrifices made by Aboriginal veterans.
Since 1971, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples has represented the interests of off-reserve status and non-status Indians, Southern Inuit and Métis throughout Canada. The Congress is the national voice for its affiliate organizations who advocate on behalf of Aboriginal Peoples living off-reserve.