Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada

October 26, 2005 17:51 ET

Veterans Affairs Canada: Members of Aboriginal Spiritual Journey en Route to Europe

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 26, 2005) - A group of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Spiritual Elders, ceremonial helpers, Veterans and youth departed for Europe today to conduct a Calling Home Ceremony to invite the spirits of fallen warriors to return to their homelands and rest with their ancestors in Canada. They will also participate in commemorative ceremonies in the Ypres area of Belgium and in Normandy, France to honour Canada's war dead of the First and Second World Wars.

"This will be a journey unlike any taken in Canadian history...," said the Honourable Albina Guarnieri, Minister of Veterans Affairs and head of the official delegation. "It is groundbreaking on many fronts. The Calling Home ceremony has never before been associated with a Veterans' trip back to Canadian battlegrounds. It has come about because of the vision of Canada's Aboriginal community. It was clearly a very powerful vision and through a lot of hard work and persistence it is now about to happen. And never before have we had a delegation specifically comprised of Aboriginal Veterans. It could not happen at a more appropriate time than during the Year of the Veteran."

Spiritual Elders will conduct the spiritual Calling Home Ceremony from October 28 to November 1 at a military installation near Kemmel, Belgium. While this sacred (and therefore private) ceremony is taking place, the rest of the Canadian delegation, which includes traditional performers (such as Metis fiddlers, Inuit throat singers and First Nations drummers and dancers), Veterans, youth, a Canadian Forces Contingent and an RCMP Contingent (the latter two groups largely comprised of Aboriginal people), members of national Veterans' and Aboriginal organizations, and Parliamentarians, will honour Veterans and in particular Canadians who gave their lives in service during a ceremony of remembrance October 28 at the Hill 62 (Sanctuary Wood) Memorial near Ypres. They will then travel to Normandy for a ceremony October 30 at Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, where Canadians who died in the initial days of the Normandy campaign are buried. That afternoon, an Inuksuk created by Inuit Elder Peter Irniq will be unveiled at the Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer, its windows facing Canada and the nearby war cemetery, to serve as a permanent marker of the journey. On November 1 the delegation will participate in a ceremony at the Canadian St. Julien Memorial, near Ypres. At sunset, the entire delegation will come together for the daily Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres. The annual Remembrance Day ceremony at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial is the group's last overseas event, before they return to Canada and participate in Veterans' Week in Ottawa.

Traditional performers will participate in the ceremonies of remembrance and will, in addition, share their artistry and customs with the local children and/or citizens of Kemmel, Ypres, Courseulles-sur-Mer and Bernieres-sur-Mer, nearby.

Additional information about the Aboriginal Spiritual Journey, including a schedule of events, photos and youth delegates' "blogs", can be found on the Veterans Affairs Canada web site, at

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