Seeing how Remembrance Day has gone once more, I thought I would re-post this entry from last year, as it is buried a few pages back. Alas, still no change:
On November 11, at the 11th minute of the 11th hour, Canadians all over the world stop what they are doing and honour those who have fought, those who have come back, and those who have never returned, with two minutes of silence. Today, most of us will take in a ceremony at a legion or cenotaph somewhere in this vast country. We wear our poppies proudly until today, when we will lay them on the cenotaphs, or pin them to a wreath. We owe so much to these men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. It makes my heart warm to know children understand as much about our Veterans as I did as a child, as it is one thing we make sure we pass down to future generations. However, it does sadden me as well. We are not passing down all the truth to future generations. I am sure many of my own generation are unaware of the additional sacrifices paid by our First Nation Veterans who have fought side by side with their countrymen and women. While they enlisted and fought side by side during the wars, we all know they were not allowed that equality back in their own country. But what many do not know, as a reward for fighting, the Canadian Veteran's Settlement Act allowed Canadian Veterans (certain Veterans) returning home to buy land at very, very cheap prices. However, many of the Native soldiers who were fortunate enough to return home, were not only not allowed to buy the same land, but usually were not even told about the program. Instead, many returned home to their First Nation communities to find the government had seized huge portions of their reserve land to compensate non-native soldiers. Whole First Nation communities still mourn the loss of thousands of acres of land they were forces to surrender, as if they had lost a war. When these soldiers returned, many did have the option of getting the vote in Canada. Remember up until the 60's First Nations people were not even allowed to vote in their own country. Many feel this was the point we first became Canadian. Anyhow, a vet returning from the war could get the vote, if he were to become white. He had to give up who he was, where he came from, basically forget who he really was, in order to be Canadian. Many did this and in doing so, were not longer considered First Nation/Indian by the government. By society, that was a different story. How could one fit into a society if society did not want one there in the first place? Over 5200 First Nations people have served our military. Many are still waiting to receive even the basic benefits non-native veterans receive and have received for many, many years. Is it because prior to this year we were not even considered human? After all, the Canadian Human Rights Act did not apply to anyone living in a First Nations Community until this year. As we honour those brave soldiers today, on November 11, it is a day to remember, a day to mourn, a day to ask, why?