The Canadian Motorcycle Tourism Association is going ahead with its Indigenous Veterans’ Day Ceremony. The ceremony will look a little different this year, as some of the elders and speakers will be providing presentations via remote audio and video feeds.
Executive Director Renee Charbonneau says Indigenous Veterans’ Day is an important tradition to continue and maintain.
“There is a huge reason to have an Indigenous Veterans’ day. Number one, it comes during Veterans’ Week. Remembrance Day is for all KIA soldiers; Indigenous Veterans Day… is a day of honour and respect.”
Charbonneau says Métis and Indigenous people banded together and decided to hold their own ceremony, the first of which was in 1994. According to Veterans Affairs Canada, more than 7,000 First Nations members served in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War, along with an unknown number of Inuit, Métis and other Indigenous people.
“They decided, instead of trying to take away the importance of Remembrance Day, they would instead honour Indigenous veterans in a unique ceremony in a more traditional way.”
“Ours is of course a hybrid ceremony. There’s a little bit of military and a little bit of Indigenous, and we found our own unique way to honour our Indigenous veterans and their service to this country because they sacrificed an enormous amount when they came home,” she adds.
During the ceremony, the CMTA will also take official possession of the donated land from the Army, Navy, Airforce Veterans Unit 389. The land, at the time of donation, was reportedly worth $130,000. Charbonneau says the association purchased the property for $1 in order to fulfil any legal transfer requirements.
“[It was] definitely a donation, but it was a legal transaction. We’re just waiting for the official title to be in our hands but all the legal work is now done. We have a special plaque that will grace the front entrance of Veterans Memorial Gardens that we will present to ANAVETS President Bill Chalifoux.”
For the outside ceremony, there will be very few restrictions and masks will not be mandatory, but the inside luncheon will more closely follow provincial health guidelines and masks will have to be worn, save by those who have been medically exempt.
The ceremony will be completely filmed and live-streamed, starting at roughly 10:30 a.m. and will conclude around 11:15 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park.