Aboriginal veterans news

BC Lieutenant Governor Joins First Nations and the Military
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to Celebrate Contributions of Aboriginal Veterans
and Serving Members
at CFB Esquimalt - June 13, 2002

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At CFB Esquimalt on Vancouver Island, Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnolo joined military and First Nation leaders from the eight nations of southern Vancouver Island for the military base's 5th annual Aboriginal Day celebrations to honour past and present Aboriginal members of the Canadian Forces.

The gathering included traditional foods - buffalo burgers, cultural performances - Yellowwolf drum group (pictured above on this page)

hoop dancer Seaman Earl Charters

and the distribution of the National Aboriginal Veteran's Association NAVA Commemorative Millennium Medallion, given in appreciation for the commitment and service of both Aboriginal veterans and currently serving Aboriginal members of the Canadian Forces.
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Among this year's recipients - Winston Wutunnee, elder, veteran, singer, musician, storyteller, comedian.

A news release issued by CFB Esquimalt said the event "provides an opportunity to inform military members and civilian employees of the defence team about the contribution of Aboriginal people to the defence of Canada, and gain a better understanding of the culture of their colleagues and neighbours."

Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnollo echoed those remarks when she said " Most Canadians today, remember and honour the struggles that you endured on the way to greater freedom and democracy, as well as your remarkable commitment to our common well being."

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British Columbia's Lieutenant Governor's Remarks

MARPAC Fifth Annual
National Aboriginal Day Celebration
CFB Esquimalt

Admiral Fraser, First Nations Chiefs, National and Vancouver Island Presidents of the National Aboriginal Veterans Associations, Mayors, Sergeant Connie LePoint, Master and Mistress of Ceremonies: Master Seaman Vern Point and Aldeen Mason, Honoured Aboriginal Veterans, Retired and Serving Men and Women, Friends and Families:

I acknowledge with respect the customs and way of life of the Esquimalt, T'Songees, T'Seycum, T'Sartlip, T'Sawout, T'Souke, Paquachin and Beecher Bay peoples of the Coast Salish 1st Nation who are our Victoria neighbours and thank you all for the courtesy of our gathering in your traditional territories.

I am also very pleased to be here in honour of National Aboriginal Day next week at this Fifth Annual special MARPAC Community Celebration of Members inclusive of the workforce, both Military and Civilian and the eight resident 1st Nations of our area. The pride that we have in all our Canadian Military Forces is today signaled in recognition and respect for retired Aboriginal Veterans and presently serving Members with Awards of the Aboriginal Veterans Commemorative Millennium Medallion.

The Millennium Medal is a project of the National Aboriginal Veterans Association and demonstrates the respect of your peers and neighbours and all citizens for the significant role played by Aboriginal Peoples in the Military history of Canada both past and present. As Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Militia, US Forces, Merchant Navy, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Peace time Services, those being honoured today have helped to forge an important pathway toward more respected access into today's Armed Forces. In particular, this ceremony speaks very well for Canada's Navy on the Pacific Coast and I commend Admiral Fraser and his Command-Administration for their Leadership of one our Country's great Military Institutions in conveying the REAL Canada, not just in coldly correct Lawful expression, but in a genuine 'open-hearted' spirit of community coupled with 'on-the-ground' humanity!

Anyone who watched last year's televised CBC-"Canada a People's History" is likely to be freshly acquainted with the knowledge that without 1st Nations and Aboriginal support for Canada's earliest days, we would ALL assuredly be speaking today with more southerly accents! Those of us of advanced years, like myself, are also very familiar with the magnificent record of 1st Nations and Aboriginal Peoples who served in World War 2 and Korea. On those terrible Seas and Battlefields, you helped to secure the immense freedoms we now enjoy, as you fought side by side with other Canadians from every global heritage to secure a better future for our great country.

In those terrible conflicts, you brought with you, your own understanding of this precious land, borne of the knowledge of at least a 100 Centuries of continuous habitation here! As Aboriginal Soldiers, Sailors and other combatants, you made your mark and earned your "stripes" the hard way. You did so along with Asians and others who like yourselves also gave freely of both service and sacrifice, to gallantly defend a Country that had yet to grant you even the respect of the Right to Vote.

Most Canadians today, remember and honour the struggles that you endured on the way to greater freedom and democracy, as well as your remarkable commitment to our common well being. Today, every Service has 1st Nations and Aboriginal Members, as part of your legacy that is being honoured here today. I also think of the scarlet-shirted ranks of the Northern Rangers, who are in the main, of Innu, Inuit, Dene and other Northern heritages. Theirs is a special Arctic domain, predominantly above the 60th parallel that remains vital to Canada's Sovereignty, particularly in this War of Terrorism, with individual duties across the breadth of Nunavut, North West Territories and Yukon.

There is much to be proud of on Aboriginal Day 2002 and although not all goals are yet reached, we CAN acknowledge together a gradually improving time of better and fairer recognition of each other's contributions and strengths. It was Chief Dan George of the T'sleil Watuth Burrard Band who memorably said: "We have taken so much from your Society, don't you think it is time that you took some things from ours?" It is perhaps appropriate that we remember today, the many gifts that B. C. 1st Nations and many Aboriginal peoples bring to our shared communities.

We are all enhanced by the addition of a people who have known this land since "time immemorial" and who bring with them a number of very different, ancient and richly descriptive languages to describe the splendour and strength of this land. (Even popular Culture has finally taken notice of this fact of language with the new WW2 Movie called "Wind-Talkers".) Then, there is the legacy of a many-faceted set of differing cultures, reinforced by distinctive art-forms, dances and music that are characteristic ONLY of what we know of today as 'beautiful B. C.' We are all strengthened too, by the addition of the many strong Aboriginal spiritual beliefs which have roots vested deeply in respect for the Natural World, that in the end must sustain us all. Our Society is also naturally enhanced by the example of a people who have maintained dignity, hospitality and courtesy even in the face of intolerance and miscommunication and have done so in some very difficult times and circumstances.

I congratulate ALL those who have contributed to this ceremony of recognition at MARPAC. Today your fellow citizens say: "Thank You"! With these Awards, and in the open door of justice, we recognize and salute your service and sacrifice to our shared Community. As the representative of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen of Canada, it is my honour to express to each one of you the admiration, respect and thanks of all British Columbians.

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