Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada

August 22, 2005 15:10 ET

VAC/Media Advisory: Media Invited to Participate in Aboriginal Spiritual Journey

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 22, 2005) - This fall, an Aboriginal Spiritual Journey to Belgium and France will call home the spirits of fallen warriors and offer a final salute to those who gave their lives during the First and Second World Wars. Aboriginal Spiritual Elders from across Canada will conduct a Calling Home Ceremony to invite the spirits of fallen warriors to return to their homelands and join their ancestors. At the same time, Aboriginal Veterans and youth will visit former battlefields and cemeteries related to the First and Second World Wars and learn about and pay their respects to those who gave their lives.

Media are invited to be a part of this unique journey. Those interested should contact Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) (see contact information below) by September 20. Please note that spaces are limited. Transportation and accommodation expenses of media delegates are covered by VAC; for those outlets with pay policies, these expenses are estimated to be approximately $3,500 per person.

Members of the Aboriginal Spiritual Journey will congregate in Ottawa on October 25. On November 4, the delegation will return to Ottawa where they will participate in the launch of Veterans' Week 2005. In between, the Veterans and youth will visit Ypres, Vimy Ridge, Juno Beach in Normandy, and other historic sites and war cemeteries, while the Spiritual Elders will conduct the Calling Home Ceremony at a site near Ypres, incorporating the customs and traditions of First Nations, Metis and Inuit people. In addition, an Inukshuk will be constructed and placed on the grounds of the Juno Beach Centre to serve as a permanent reminder of the contribution of Canada's First Peoples in service to their country.

Numbering approximately 230 people, the delegation will focus on Aboriginal participants and will include one caregiver for each Veteran, and a number of helpers who will assist the Spiritual Elders. Aboriginal culture will be showcased through the performances of drummers, dancers, throat singers and fiddlers. Due to the sacred nature of the Calling Home Ceremony, it will be conducted in private, although information about it will be made available throughout the journey.

Aboriginal Spiritual Elders and leaders of organizations representing Aboriginal Veterans proposed the Aboriginal Spiritual Journey, which is being undertaken with the support of the Government of Canada through Veterans Affairs Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

Thousands of First Nations, Metis and Inuit people served in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War. More than 500 known Aboriginal war dead are buried in Commonwealth War Graves Commission and other cemeteries around the world. For more information on the Aboriginal Spiritual Journey, including a tentative schedule of events, and on the participation of Aboriginal people in wartime, visit the Veterans Affairs Canada web site at www.vac-acc.gc.ca.

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