Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada

October 18, 2005 10:04 ET

VAC: Minister Guarnieri Praises Aboriginal Spiritual Elders for Upcoming Journey

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 18, 2005) - The Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Albina Guarnieri, met recently with Spiritual Elders to discuss the Aboriginal Spiritual Journey to Europe which will honour First Nations, Metis and the Inuit of Canada who gave their lives in wartime. The delegation of Aboriginal Veterans, Aboriginal youth and Spiritual Elders will leave Ottawa on October 26 and return in time for the launch of Veterans' Week on November 4th.

"Aboriginal Veterans and Spiritual Elders are bringing history and heritage to our upcoming Aboriginal Spiritual Journey," said Minister Guarnieri. "In the Year of the Veteran, Canada is rediscovering the immense contributions of Veterans from every community and background.
With the wisdom of Aboriginal Spiritual Elders at our side, we will be able to more fully appreciate the experience and sacrifice of Aboriginal Veterans."

Aboriginal Spiritual Elders from across Canada will conduct Calling Home Ceremonies, incorporating the customs and traditions of First Nations and Metis peoples and the Inuit, to return the spirits of fallen warriors to their homelands and put them to rest with their ancestors in Canada.

"Canadians played a major role in defending many of the places we will be visiting," said Ray Rogers, Chairman of the First Nations Veterans of Canada. "For example, Canada had one of the most important roles in the D-day landings, and made major gains. It gives me great pride that First Nations people participated so that we may live in peace and freedom. On a percentage basis First Nations had the highest contribution rate. I am honoured to attend this special Journey and represent those who are not able to go, including those we have lost and those who are not well enough to travel."

"This is a Vision that will be told by the Grandmothers and Mothers to their Children and those not yet born," said Ed Borchert, President of the National Metis Veterans Association. "It is a Vision in our lifetime brought to us from the Ancestors and the Warriors of Old on the wings of an Eagle crying out for the Spirits of our fallen warriors to be called home so that we might bring closure to our families and our communities and to those who did not have a chance to say goodbye. A Vision that will educate all Canadians, our children and Europe and their children that we also served."

"The building of this Inuksuk will unite all Canadians in a very good way," said Inuit Elder Peter Irniq, who is creating an Inuksuk on the grounds of the Juno Beach Centre to mark the Aboriginal Spiritual Journey. "It gives all of us an opportunity to look back to our history and move forward, with strength and better vision for our future generations. And particularly, with a great deal of pride for all of us. What a country this Canada is! It is a land of many opportunities, some not yet discovered! This journey gives all of us a chance to discover each other's culture and language, by understanding it and respecting it more."

Twenty Canadian Aboriginal Veterans of the Second World War and 14 Aboriginal youth will accompany the Spiritual Elders and will visit a number of commemorative sites related to the First and Second World Wars, including Ypres, Vimy Ridge, and Juno Beach in Normandy.

Thousands of Inuit and First Nations and Metis people served Canada 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.

2005 is the Year of the Veteran: Celebrate. Honour. Thank. Remember. Teach.

Contact Information

  • Veterans Affairs Canada
    Janice Summerby
    Media Relations Advisor
    (613) 992-7468
    Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
    Corey Hobbs
    Director of Communications
    (613) 947-4908