Lest We Forget – A Week of Remembering Nov. 8-14

Posted On Tuesday November 07, 2023

National Aboriginal Veterans Day (Nov. 8) and Remembrance Day (Nov. 11) 

On November 11, 2023, we remember and honour more than 118,000 Canadians who have died in military service over 200 years. To start this acknowledgement of such an important week of remembering, schools and district departments will lower their outside flags from November 8-14, 2023.

“We will begin this week of remembering lives lost on November 8, 2023, National Aboriginal Veterans Day and hold ceremonies on November 10th to honor and acknowledge all veterans and those who lost loved ones in the World Wars or other battles,” stated Dr. Rhonda Nixon, Superintendent of Schools.

“The Aboriginal Education Council advised that lowering the flag is an important signifier of the need to remember that Aboriginal peoples had an important role in World War I and II, the Korean War, and Canadian Armed Forces. This is one way to further Truth and Reconciliation in our community,” shared Diane Jules, Director of the Aboriginal Education Council.

The Canadian government marks November 8th across Canada by hosting ceremonies in which citizens learn, listen, reflect, and stand together in silence to acknowledge the important contributions made by thousands of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit veterans who served in both World Wars and in the Korean War.

Aboriginal people have a long military history in Canada, including their integral role in Canada’s efforts in the War of 1812 against the Americans. More than 4,000 Aboriginal people served in the First World War and 3,000 in the Second World War. Currently, more than 2,700 members of the Canadian Armed Forces are Aboriginal and Aboriginal soldiers have continued to serve in many deployments like Canada’s mission in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014 with the Canadian Rangers.

“Aboriginal veterans have historically been prevented from honouring lost lives of friends and family members in Royal Canadian Legion ceremonies until 1951, including Remembrance Day,” said Michael Bowden, District Principal, Aboriginal Education. “It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that Aboriginal veterans and families were invited to lay wreaths or to have their own guards at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Remembrance Day.”

“Throughout history, Indigenous veterans have not always been treated equally,” said Michael Bowden, District Principal, Aboriginal Education and Veteran with his 12 year Canadian Armed Forces Service Medal. “November 8 during Veteran’s Week, serves as a reminder of the contributions, bravery, and service of Indigenous veterans made and are still making a difference to help bring peace and stability during some of our most unstable times. On November 8, to match the similar lowering of the flag on the Peace Tower in Ottawa, we will be lowering our flags at all schools in the School District.”

“There is a need to ensure that today’s youth have a fundamental understanding of what their great-grandparents, grandparents and in some cases, their fathers and mothers were called upon to do to defend the freedom and democracy that we enjoy today,” according to the Legion National Foundation Teacher’s Guide. “An understanding of the sacrifices that many Canadians made to preserve and protect our way of life.” 

Local branches of The Canadian Legion encourage “youth involvement in Remembrance in a variety of ways,” reports the Legion website. “From holding Remembrance ceremonies at schools, speaking with students and youth organizations about Veterans, inviting youth to participate in community and Branch commemorative services, to inviting Cadets to help with the Poppy Campaign.”

“The war proved that the fighting spirit of my tribe was not squelched through reservation life. When duty called, we were there, and when we were called forth to fight for the cause of civilization, our people showed all the bravery of our warriors of old.” - Mike Mountain Horse, WWI Veteran

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