A service honouring Indigenous veterans was a special moment for the grandson of a Second World War veteran.
Indigenous veterans, active service members, and veterans’ families sat inside a Winnipeg armoury Tuesday morning, taking part in a ceremony honouring Indigenous veterans.
“I’m thankful for the day as it comes together,” Retired Corporal Melvin Swan said. “This day on aboriginal veterans day. And I was there when it was created.”
Swan carries the veterans’ pipe for the country.
“(It) makes me realize what I’ve been through as a soldier, as a residential school and day school survivor.”
The ceremony at Minto Armoury honoured veterans like Sergeant Tommy Prince – a highly decorated war veteran who died penniless.
Many soldiers who served in the Second World War lost their status after spending four or more years away from their reserves and were not eligible for post-war assistance.
This ceremony with a drum circle, smudging, and Indigenous prayers shows how far Indigenous service members have come since then.
Master Corporal Errol McKay of Fisher River Cree Nation played in the service’s drum circle.
His grandfather served in the Second World War but he died before McKay enlisted.
“I think he would be very proud. Very proud knowing that I am serving,” McKay said. “It was really special to take part in the ceremony today. I felt really proud.”
McKay is encouraging people to attend a Remembrance Day service in honour of Canadian veterans.
The Manitoba Métis Federation also held a service, saying thousands of Métis people have served in the military.
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