Indigenous Veterans Day is a time to pause and recognize the contributions that Indigenous peoples have made to the protection of Canada and Canadian values.
Westbank First Nation held a ceremony on November 8 to celebrate Indigenous veterans and share the story of how racism overshadowed the achievements of brave men who fought for their country.
It’s important to recognize that in addition to risking their lives, Indigenous peoples who fought in the First and Second World Wars were stripped of their Indian status, said Jordan Coble, Council Member of the First Nation of Westbank.
Despite losing their identity, 99% of eligible Okanagan Indian Band men enlisted because they believed in the cause, Coble said.
“It made going back to basics very complicated,” Coble said. “You come home to a community that is no longer yours.”
Coble explained that as a non-status Indian, people felt disconnected from their native community while not being accepted by the colonizers.
Feeling disconnected from society has contributed to the intergenerational trauma that affects Indigenous peoples today, Coble said.
“We’re not here to generate sympathy…we’re here to share our story.”
He explained that on the journey of truth and reconciliation, Indigenous communities are at the stage of sharing truths and people need to listen and learn.
“Everyone needs to understand that listening is the most important tool we have. “
Coble said people need to embrace the real story of Canada, even if it’s not all pleasant.
City of West KelownaIndigenousNativesMétis VeteransRemembrance DayVeterans