As a young military cadet, Melanie Brass (pictured here) proudly participated in Canada’s first Indigenous Veterans Day held in Winnipeg on November 8, 1994. She also participated in a service this year at Ka Ni Kanichihk. Indigenous Veterans Day is now observed throughout Canada in recognition of Indigenous contributions to military service, particularly in the First World War, Second World War and the Korean War.
Indigenous people made great sacrifices for Canada, as recalled by staff member, Jennifer Meixner,
“On Indigenous Veterans Day I think about my Grandpa who grew up missing his male elder (warrior) influences because they went to war. His Uncles left to serve a country that didn’t recognize them as Canadian citizens. Many Indigenous men who served in the war did so to escape a life poisoned by the Indian Act, and/or to earn fair treatment and better futures for their families and communities because protecting and providing for their communities was inherent in them. They left behind women and children who missed their warriors who were needed to bring balance in their lives. My Grandpa grew up with his mother in the city of Winnipeg. He was disconnected from important lessons about his roles and responsibilities. Needing to evaporate into the urban setting to survive, his family abandoned elements of their culture and identities – waging a different kind of war. Our Indigenous veterans and their loved ones made sacrifices in the name of Canada, a country that still inflicts war on these traditional lands and the original people.”