November 8, 2020 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre, Commander Canadian Army, issued the following statement to mark National Indigenous Veterans Day:
“As Defence Team Champion for Indigenous Peoples, I am proud to be speaking on behalf of the Canadian Armed Forces on this important day – a day for giving thanks to the men and women of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities for their service and sacrifices.
“It is fitting that we honour our Indigenous veterans with a day of their own. Not only because of their distinct and impressive achievements as soldiers and peacekeepers, but also because many of them chose to stand in defence of a nation that did not treat them as equals.
“As the historical record shows, Indigenous soldiers made impressive and important contributions nonetheless. Individually, we celebrate figures such Louis Norwest, and Francis Pegahmagabow, whose bravery and sharpshooting acumen earned them Military Medals and the deep admiration of Canadians during the First World War.
“Collectively speaking, federal government statistics from the time indicate some 4,000 Indigenous Peoples enlisted. And they did so in numbers equal to, and often greater than, the general population. And this is likely an underestimation as Inuit, Métis, and non-status Indigenous soldiers were not among those counted.
“At the outbreak of the Second World War, Canada’s Indigenous veterans still had…