First Nations Leadership Council

November 10, 2008 19:38 ET

Remembrance Day

Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, Lifestyle Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor VANCOUVER, BC, OPEN LETTER--(Marketwire - Nov. 10, 2008) - November 11, 2008

Re: Remembrance Day

Dear Canadians

On a day when Canadians from all walks of life pause and reflect on the supreme sacrifices of so many men and women who fought and died for our freedom, The First Nations Leadership Council would like to join with them in recognizing and saluting the contribution of veterans, and specifically First Nations veterans, to serving their country and fellow citizens.

The contributions of First Nations soldiers to Canada's armed forces cannot be understated. From the 1800's to the present day mission in Afghanistan, First Nations soldiers have been on the front line in Canada's military. More than 7,000 Aboriginal men and women volunteered to serve in the First and Second World Wars as well as the Korean War. More than 500 First Nations soldiers lost their lives in the conflicts. At least 68 medals for bravery were awarded to First Nations Soldiers in the First and Second World Wars. In 1943, King George VI bestowed British Empire Medals upon four Aboriginal Bands, including the Kitkatla Band in B.C. for their contributions to the war effort. To this day many First Nations soldiers lay buried in the battlefields of Europe.

Unfortunately, many First Nations Veterans faced discrimination upon returning home from the World Wars and Korea. Though eligible for certain benefits, many did not receive them because of bureaucratic hang-ups, or unfriendly Indian Agents. Other benefits like land settlement money and education were denied. Such discrimination spurred First Nations veterans to organize and lobby the government to make changes to the Indian Act and federal policy. In fact Native veterans were instrumental in status Indians finally receiving the right to vote in 1960. After years of lobbying, the government of Canada finally offered a settlement package to veterans or surviving spouses in 2002. It was too late for many, too little for some, but it was finally an acknowledgement that many brave soldiers did not receive the hero's welcome they deserved.

Today First Nations participation in the armed forces continues with Aboriginals making up about 1.4% or almost 1300 of the members. Theirs is a service born of the pride of their ancestors, and nation. They carry with them the warrior spirit and proudly serve with distinction and honour. They are today's role models, and tomorrow's leaders.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, commemorating a moment 90 years ago when troops laid down their arms to end World War one, we join all Canadians in paying tribute to the courage and valour of those who served, and those who serve today. We ask all First Nations to remember and honour the legacy of their armed forces veterans.



On behalf of the FIRST NATIONS SUMMIT:

Grand Chief Edward John
Dan Smith
Grand Chief Doug Kelly


Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
Chief Robert Shintah
Chief Lynda Price


Regional Chief A-in-chut (Shawn Atleo) /For further information: Regional Chief Shawn Atleo, BC Assembly of First Nations, (604) 220-5822; Colin Braker, First Nations Summit, (604) 926-9903 or (604) 328-4094

Contact Information

  • Stewart Phillip, Grand Chief, First Nations Leadership Council
    Primary Phone: 250-490-5314