Qalipu First Nations Chief Brendan Mitchell says helping Canada has been a part of Indigenous history for the past 200 years.
Tomorrow, people will gather in Corner Brook as part of the first ever National Indigenous Veterans day. It gets underway at 10:30 tomorrow morning at the cenotaph followed by a social at the Royal Canadian legion. Qalipu First Nations Chief Brendan Mitchell says helping Canada has been a part of Indigenous history for the past 200 years. “I think of the war of 1812 when Indigenous soldiers enlisted for the first time and helped protect Canada from an invasion of the United States,” he says. “Since then, thousands have enlisted.”
Chief Mitchell says we live in the Canada we have today because of sacrifices. “We live in a very safe place. You only have to look in the media now with what’s happening in Israel and Palestine,” he says. “People are dying in the war between Israel and Hamas while the world has millions of people in refugee camps.”
The first Indigenous Veterans day was held in Manitoba in 1994. Chief Mitchell says indigenous veterans have not been treated very well. “They weren’t allowed to toast a fallen comrade at a Royal Canadian Legion until 1951 and only if the legion approved it,” he says. “Unbelievable, it wasn’t until the 1990’s that families of Indigenous veterans were permitted to lay a wreath on Remembrance Day in Ottawa.”
Chief Mitchell is also the honorary lieutenant colonel of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.