Nearly 7,000 indigenous veterans are believed to have served Canada in the great conflicts of the 20th century, with more than 500 of those giving their lives.
Today, those sacrifices were honoured in ceremonies across the country.
About 100 people turned out in Vancouver for a procession down hasting street to the Victory Square cenotaph, where wreaths were laid and tribute paid to the fallen.
Grand Chief Stuart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs was one of those who addressed the crowd.
“Remember those who sacrificed, who have suffered and who have committed the most precious gift, the gift of life itself, to defend the values and the principles of freedom, democracy and human rights for all people.”
— Roshini Nair (@roshini980) November 8, 2015
Veteran Joy Ward-Dockery was one of those in attendance. She says many Canadians don’t realize indigenous people who served often paid a much higher price.
“when our people went to serve for our country, they lost their status, they left their community, and when they came back they weren’t rewarded with the same benefits as other non-aboriginal veterans. They were simply told to return to their aboriginal communities with no medical support, with no emotional or social support. And in spite of all that we continued to serve.”
That was a sentiment echoed by young aboriginal cadet, Sgt. Javier Rivera.
“That sacrifice they made, not only at the war, but also when they came back home is something that we need to recognize and we need to remember especially so as never to repeat it again.”
Rivera says he’s glad to see aboriginal contributions turning up more in school curriculums, but says more still needs to be added.
With files from Roshini Nair