Premier John Horgan has issued the following statement marking Indigenous Veterans Day:
“Today, on Indigenous Veterans Day, we honour those Indigenous people who have served and continue to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces. The flag at the British Columbia Parliament Buildings has been lowered to half-mast to mark this solemn occasion.
“Every year on this date, we reflect on the contributions and the sacrifices made by an estimated 12,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit people from across this land who have served. Indigenous people have a proud tradition of military service, including in the Boer War, both World Wars and the Korean War, as well as in more recent conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan. We also acknowledge the tremendous contributions by Indigenous communities on the home front.
“During the First World War, every man between the ages of 20 and 35 from Nk’maplqs (Head of the Lake), presently known as the Okanagan Indian Band, enlisted in the war effort. Among them was Private George McLean, a rancher who was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery during the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917. His bravery is but one example among many.
“Despite this exemplary record of service and valour, many Indigenous veterans returned home only to face continued discrimination. The legacy of their mistreatment echoes to this day.
“On this sombre day of reflection, we remember those who never made it home. We also recognize those who returned home forever changed by conflict and acknowledge the sacrifice of their service.
“I encourage all British Columbians to take a moment today to reflect on the contributions of Indigenous veterans and today’s active service members. Lest we forget.”