National Aboriginal Veterans Day

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2023 DateNovember 8, 2023
2024 DateNovember 8, 2024

National Aboriginal Veterans Day

National Aboriginal Veterans Day in
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National Aboriginal Veterans Day acknowledges the significant contributions of Indigenous peoples, including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, in the defense of Canada. This special day is designated to honour the courage, commitment, and sacrifices made by these brave men and women who stepped forward to serve their nation in times of need. Recognized annually, this Observance sheds light on the historical and ongoing role played by Indigenous veterans, paying tribute to their resilience, determination, and dedication to Canada.

The origins of National Aboriginal Veterans Day trace back to 1994, when a group of Indigenous veterans in Winnipeg, Manitoba, established it as a commemoration distinct from the broader Remembrance Day. Since then, major cities across Canada have been hosting events to highlight and celebrate the unique experiences and valuable military contributions of Indigenous veterans. The acknowledgement and celebration of Indigenous veterans bear even greater significance given the unfortunate past of discrimination and lack of appropriate recognition towards Indigenous soldiers returning from service or seeking veteran benefits.

National Aboriginal Veterans Day is typically observed on November 8th. In communities across the country, commemorative ceremonies, memorial marches, and educational events aim to inform Canadians and foster a sense of gratitude for the sacrifices made by Indigenous veterans. Wreath-layings, flag-raisings, and powwows are among the common customs that honor and remember the Indigenous soldiers who fought courageously for their homeland. By participating in these activities, Canadians come together to express appreciation for Indigenous veterans and their vital role in preserving the nation's values, freedom, and security.

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Top facts about National Aboriginal Veterans Day

  • Over 12,000 First Nation members, Inuit, Métis, and other indigenous men and women served in Canada's military during World Wars I and II as well as during the Korean war.
  • There were over 2,700 indigenous members in Canada's military forces as of 2020.
  • Indigenous Peoples continue to answer the call and to play a critical role in Canada's effort to promote and protect peace and security. Today and every day, it is essential that we thank them and let them know that we appreciate them, and that they are respected, both abroad and at home - Minister Dan Vandal, Indigenous Veterans Day 2020
  • Approximately 7,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis across Canada volunteered to serve in World War I and World War II. Around 500 Aboriginal people in Canada also served in the Korean War.
  • In World War II, Indigenous soldiers played a crucial role in the development of the 'devil's brigade,' an elite special forces unit that included both Canadian and American soldiers.
  • Some Aboriginal Veterans were used as 'code talkers' during World War II, utilizing their Indigenous languages to transmit secret military messages that were virtually unbreakable by enemy forces.

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