Indigenous Veterans Day celebrated throughout Regina with flag elevating, unveiling of memorial pedestal
Indigenous Veterans Day events across Regina were dedicated to the more than 12,000 Indigenous people who fought for Canada since World War I.
The First Nations University of Canada hosted a ceremony that saw a ceremonial flag raising as well as a formal program with the Lieutenant Governor, FNUC president and many others giving remarks about Indigenous veterans their service.
“During the First and Second World Wars in many Indigenous communities, the response was remarkable. With very high enlistment rates,” said Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty.
The ceremony was followed by a formal unveiling of the last two pedestals dedicated to Canadian military history at the cenotaph in Victoria Park.
One of them was centered on Canada’s first major military operation overseas, the South African War, which waged from 1899 to 1902. The other pedestal was dedicated to Indigenous veterans of Metis, Inuit, and First Nations ancestry.
The pedestals were a project that was made possible by the Royal United Services Institute of Regina. Brad Hyrcyna is the president of the institute and believes they will be a valuable educational opportunity going forward.
“The pedestals are meant to educate the visitors to the park,” he said. “So that the sacrifice, the honor, and the remembrance of our veterans are not forgotten.”
The inclusion of a pedestal for Indigenous veterans was one of the first decisions made in the project, according to Hrycyna. He believes that it will help educate, especially youth, on this important aspect of Canada’s military history.
“Anybody who walks up to these pedestals and reads it,” he said. “They’ll understand that the First Nations were important to Canadas’s war efforts, our peace keeping efforts, and everything our armed forces do.”
Vice Chief Dutch Lerat of the FSIN admitted it was a great day due to the recognition of Indigenous veterans, but emphasized people can never forget how they were treated once they returned home, even though they admirably served Canada.
“In spite of the challenges that our veterans had, in the past, by not having to go fight the Queens wars. But they stepped up for freedom only to come back to face challenges such as the pass system,” he said.
Lerat pointed out during his remarks that Indigenous peoples, having no obligation to fight for Canada, still rose up and served to protect something that they might one day fully enjoy.
“Thousands across the land stepped up for the freedom of our country. For the freedom they wanted to enjoy and we acknowledge them this day,” Lerat added.