National Aboriginal Veterans Day is November 8

Blood Tribe recruits, 191st Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Fort Macleod, Alberta. (Photo and caption: Glenbow Archives, NA-2164-1). Photo/ https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/people-and-stories/indigenous-veterans.

Blood Tribe recruits, 191st Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Fort Macleod, Alberta. (Photo and caption: Glenbow Archives, NA-2164-1). Photo/ https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/people-and-stories/indigenous-veterans.

National Aboriginal Veterans Day has been observed November 8 annually since 1994- as before 1994 Indigenous veterans were not recognized in Remembrance Day activities.

Over Canadian history it is estimated that over 12,000 Indigenous people from Canada served in war and peace efforts with at least 500 of them losing their lives due to conflict. Indigenous peoples in Canada have also fought on the front line of every major battle that Canada has ever been involved in.

It is estimated that 7,000 Indigenous peoples served in WWI and WWII as well as the Korean War where an unknown number of Métis, Inuit and non-status Indians also served.

It wasn’t until 50 years after WWII in 1995 that Indigenous Peoples were permitted to lay Remembrance Day wreaths at the National War Memorial to remember and honour their dead comrades.

November 8 is a day to commemorate the contributions of Indigenous veterans who fought shoulder to shoulder with Canadians in WWI ,WWII, and the Korean War.

Indigenous veterans had to overcome many obstacles to serve Canada in these wars including adjusting to new cultures and learning to speak English in some cases. Research shows that Indigenous recruits joined up for a variety of reasons including seeking employment, adventure, and upholding tradition that had seen their ancestors fight alongside the British military in the War of 1812 and the South African War.

After WWI Indigenous ex-servicemen received little public or private support and were denied access to soldier settlement schemes. Returning Indigenous veterans did not receive the same assistance that other returned soldiers had under the War Veterans Allowance Act, a policy that they endured from 1932 to 1936.

Following WWII many Indigenous veterans found that when they returned home after fighting overseas for Canada they were no longer considered Indians because the Indian Act specified that Indians absent from the reserve for four years were no longer Indians.

Indigenous veterans fought with Canada in every major war the country was part of and continue to do so to this day.

Information for this story was found at veterans.gc.ca