David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, today released the following statement.
“On behalf of the Government of Ontario, I would like to recognize the immense contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit veterans, as we honour Aboriginal Veterans Day.
This year, Aboriginal Veterans Day takes place during Ontario’s first Treaties Recognition Week. Early alliances – confirmed through treaties – meant that many First Nations and Métis people fought beside British soldiers and Canadian Militia during the War of 1812, helping lay the foundation for the establishment of Canada. During World War I, World War II and the Korean War, though some Indigenous peoples were exempt from conscription, thousands left their homes to fight for the rights and freedom of others in Canada and abroad.
Sadly, too many who fought against racism and injustice returned home only to experience it themselves.
Today, the Ontario government recognizes the wrongs of previous generations and is committed to rebuilding relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities based on trust and respect. Recognizing and honouring the more than 12,000 Indigenous veterans who served and sacrificed for Canada is vital as we move forward on the path of reconciliation.
It is the responsibility of all Canadians to better understand the role Indigenous veterans played throughout our history not only in times of conflict but also in times of peace.
Indigenous veterans cared for us, fought for us and many died for us. Please join me as I say thank you, miigwetch and marsè to First Nation, Métis and Inuit veterans and honour their contributions to our freedom.”