Sage and drumming may not be things people are used to seeing at a Remembrance Day ceremony. But both those things were part of Grande Prairie’s first Indigenous Veterans Day ceremony at the Afganistan War Monument on Thursday morning.
Metis Local 1990 President Angie Crerar spoke at the event. She says it was important for her to attend and show respect to those who fought and died for Canada.
“This is, in my journey, the most important step for not only our families, our communities but to always remember and honour with respect and great love our veterans who have sacrificed so much in their lives to defend the country and their people.”
The event was organized by local woman Renee Charbonneau and put on by the Canadian Motorcycle Tourism Association with the help of the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre, the ANAVETS Ladies Auxiliary, and the Legion. Charbonneau said previously that the event is meant to add to the city’s annual Remembrance Day services.
Local Metis woman Lynn Caudron had two grandfathers and two uncles fight in the war. She says this ceremony is a great way for people from the Indigenous community to come together.
“For too long our Aboriginal people have been forgotten. They’ve made a significant contribution during the wars… I’m not saying that Aboriginal people are more important than anybody else but I think this is just an opportunity for our Aboriginal communities to celebrate together on a separate day.”
The ceremony also served as a sod turning for the new First Nations and Métis Nation memory walk gardens Charbonneau plans to build around the monument. She hopes to have those gardens in place by 2025.