Premier David Eby, Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, and Mitzi Dean, B.C.’s military liaison, have issued the following statement marking Indigenous Veterans Day:
“Today, on Indigenous Veterans Day, we honour those Indigenous people who have served or are currently serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. To mark this solemn occasion, the flag atop the British Columbia Parliament Buildings has been lowered to half-mast.
“Each year on this date, we pause to remember the service and the sacrifices of an estimated 12,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit people from across this land who have served. Indigenous people have a long and proud tradition of military service, including in the Boer War, the First and Second World Wars, the more recent conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan, as well as peacekeeping missions. We also recognize the tremendous contributions of Indigenous people on the home front during wartime.
“Indigenous veterans have an exemplary record of service and valour in Canada and around the world. Yet many returned home to face continued discrimination, a legacy of mistreatment that echoes to this day.
“Two decades ago, a simple boulder was placed near Highway 8 in Lower Nicola to honour fallen Indigenous soldiers. This spring, at the Shulus Arbour, the Nicola Valley First Nations Veterans Association unveiled a memorial of three granite pillars inscribed with the names of 67 First Nations veterans. Memorials like this stand as a reminder to present and future generations of the sacrifices these soldiers made at a time when they were often not even recognized as citizens in our country.
“On this sombre day, we remember those who never came home. We also remember those who returned home forever changed by conflict and we acknowledge the sacrifice of their service.
“We encourage all British Columbians to take a moment today to reflect on the contributions of Indigenous veterans, as well as those on active service. Lest we forget.”