Year of the Veteran
Sep 15, 2005

October 2005 – First Nations, Métis and Inuit people who gave their lives in wartime will be honoured during events in Europe this fall.

Aboriginal spiritual leaders from across Canada will conduct Calling Home Ceremonies, incorporating their customs and traditions, to return the spirits of fallen warriors to their homelands and put them to rest with their ancestors in Canada.

Representing every region of Canada, 20 Aboriginal Veterans of the WWII and 13 Aboriginal youth, will accompany the Spiritual Leaders and visit a number of commemorative sites related to the First and Second World Wars, including Ypres, Vimy Ridge, and Juno Beach in Normandy. Visits to Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries will offer an opportunity for the delegation to pay their respects to the fallen. In addition, an Inukshuk will be constructed and placed at an appropriate overseas location to serve as a permanent reminder of the contribution of Canada's First Peoples in service to their country.

“Our warriors did not have a chance to receive their traditional farewell,” said Ray Rogers, Chairman of the First Nations Veterans of Canada. “Bringing home their spirits is an important journey of healing and closure. It unites the past, the present and the future.”

“The Calling Home Cere­mony is a vision from the spirits of the warriors of old brought to Veterans on the wings of a Great Eagle from the Creator. A cry from the ancestor for the spirits of our fallen warriors to be reunited to their ancestral homelands. To bring closure to our families and our Nations while teaching our children, and Canada, that we also served with honour,” added Ed Borchert, President of the National Métis Veterans Association.

“We want Canada to know that our Aboriginal soldiers were in every major battle won by Canadian regiments. We are proud of our Dene warriors and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. This spiritual journey will offer a peace of mind to us, and an opportunity to pay our respects to our fallen warriors with thanksgiving prayers, and spiritual ceremonies. We shall remember them,” said Tom Eagle, representing Veterans North of 60.

The delegation will assemble in Ottawa on October 25.