By Julia Magsombol
Local Journalism Initiative
For years Indigenous war veterans were not recognized or honoured for their service, but Shuswap Band is making sure they get the acknowledgement they deserve.
The Band will honour National Aboriginal (Indigenous) Veterans Day on November 8 in Shuswap Community Hall from 4 to 5 p.m. They will start with a welcome song, followed by a moment of silence and an honour song. A free art activity and snacks are also available.
“We never forget our veterans who sacrificed what they had done to help in the wars and the accomplishments and to start the healing of truth and reconciliation, because a lot of the Aboriginal Peoples did not, and were not recognized in being in the wars,” said Clarissa Stevens, the Cultural/Family Liaison and Indian Registry Administrator of Shuswap Band.
Stevens explained that many Indigenous people back in the war had never been acknowledged. She said that even if they gave up their lives for their country, they were not recognized because they are Indigenous. One of them is her grandfather and other relatives.
“A lot of them were heroes. They did not honour them with the medal or the pin that they deserved because they were Indigenous — they didn’t consider them good enough to be heroes like that,” she pointed out.
And so on Wednesday, it is a special day to remember them.
“Pay respects to them and remember them. It’s to recognize and acknowledge the Indigenous veterans in the past and present, and acknowledge their work in their efforts of being in the wars,” Stevens said.
She said that her father would always honour his grandfather on this day and would always wear a pin for him.