Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan issued the following statement honouring National Aboriginal Veterans Day:
“Today we honour the courage and sacrifice of Indigenous men and women whose selfless service to our country has helped provide the precious freedoms we enjoy in Canada.
“I encourage everyone to take time today to express gratitude to these brave men and women for the gift of our peaceful nation, where people are free to express their thoughts, vote according to their conscience and enjoy the many other privileges that come from political, social and economic stability.
“Aboriginal Veterans Day provides an opportunity to honour the legacy of Indigenous veterans who were willing to lay down their lives to safeguard against forces of oppression, persecution and other forms of tyranny that threaten our collective rights and freedoms.
“Veterans like Alex Decoteau who was Canada’s first Indigenous police officer and who died at Passchendaele gave their lives to give us the freedom and the privilege to do important work like upholding the Treaties, implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and achieving reconciliation.
“On behalf of our government, I offer my heartfelt gratitude for the heroic service of the estimated 12,000 Indigenous men and women who served in the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War, and to Indigenous veterans who served in recent conflicts around the world.
“We will not forget.”