We Are All Treaty People

National Indigenous Veterans Day

  • Published - 08/11/2023
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  • Posted By - OTC
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Today we honour Indigenous veterans and pay tribute to their contributions in Canada’s military history.

Each Nov. 8, National Indigenous Veterans Day, is an opportunity to remember those who fought and died for a country that did not treat them equally or with respect. Many status Indian veterans returned from the Second World War found that while they may have fought for their country, they had lost their status in the process and had no home to return to.

Under Treaty, Indigenous People did not have to fight on behalf of the Queen or Canada. We saw this when Alexander Morris was with the Cree Nation during Treaty 6 negotiations at Fort Carleton in August 23, 1876.

“In case of war you ask not to be compelled to fight. I trust there will be no war, but if it should occur I think the Queen would leave you to yourselves. I'm sure she would not ask her Indian children to fight for her unless they wished, but if she did call for them and their wives and children were in danger they are not the men I think them to be, if they did not come forward to their protection.”

Then again during Treaty 6 negotiations at Fort Pitt on September 7, 1876.

“I know that you have been told that if war came you would be put in the front, this is not so. Your brothers at Carleton asked me that they might not be forced to fight, and I tell you, as I assured them, you will never be asked to fight against your will; and I trust that the time will never come of war between the Queen and the great country near us.”

As part of your reconciliation journey learn more about these veterans and take time to recognize them now. Here are some resources to get started

ithiniw-simâkanisihkânak / Indian Veterans
Salamô omasinahikîwin / Written by Solomon Ratt

We Answered the Call: A History of the Saskatchewan First Nations' Contribution to Canada's Freedom and Democracy

Image: The National Aboriginal Veterans War Memorial in Ottawa