As Manitobans met across the province Saturday to remember the veterans who fought and gave their lives for their country, the community of St. Eustache gathered to honour its local veterans and start a new Remembrance Day tradition.
The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) unveiled a new monument honouring Métis and local veterans who served in Canada's military at the RM of Cartier's Remembrance Day ceremony at the St. Eustache Roman Catholic Church.
"Today the community of St. Eustache and the Métis Nation's Manitoba Métis have come together at the grassroots to recognize these sacrifices here today with this monument," said MMF president, David Chartrand. "This is a small step in giving them our thanks for all they have given us."
The monument contains the names of over 450 veterans from St. Eustache and the surrounding area, including Elie, Cartier, St. François Xavier, Belcourt, and Marquette.
Melissa Porteous, chair of the St. Eustache Métis Local, helped design the monument, and says while it's a Métis tribute, the names engraved on it aren't exclusive to the Métis culture.
"We decided that we wanted to include all veterans because we didn't want to have division between our cultures," she explained after the ceremony. "That happened in the past and it wasn't right when it happened then so why would we make the same mistake?
"We wanted to include all veterans… if they were in our area and they went to the war, they are on the monument."
The names of veterans on the memorial include those who fought in the First World War, the Second World War, and the Korean War.
Elder Philippe Beaudin helped the St. Eustache Métis Local gather all the names for the monument, and said after all the work put into getting it together, he was thrilled to see the community get together to see it for the first time.
"It was a wonderful, wonderful ceremony, a bit cold, but that's nothing for the Métis — they've felt a lot of cold throughout their history," he said with a laugh. "It was well attended, the ceremony went on well, and I feel great right now."
Ceremonies held across Manitoba
Manitobans gathered Saturday to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made in conflicts — now and in the past.
Remembrance Day ceremonies took place around the province, including the annual Winnipeg Remembrance Day Service at RBC Convention Centre hosted by the Joint Veterans' Association of Manitoba.
There was also at parade to St. Philip's Anglican Church, the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre's annual veterans powwow at 1 p.m. and a service at the local legion at Winnipeg Beach.
There was also a service at the cenotaph in St. Norbert, hosted by the local veterans memorial association.
'This actually happened'
Seventeen-year-old Kiera Wortley is in Belgium as part of the Canadian delegation on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendale.
The Winnipeg teenager discovered her direct link to the historic battle through her great-grandmother's journal.
"It was really, really neat because there was lots of times I could hear her reading it," Wortley said about reading the journal.
Her great-grandmother died two years ago, but her journals tell the story of how her father and godfather fought in the First World War.
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While Wortley read the journals and researched the battle, she said speaking with veterans and walking along the fields and pathways where her ancestors fought "you really realize this actually happened."
"It's not just on your computer screen or on paper; you are hearing these stories from when these men were fighting," she said.
She said it's become even more clear why Remembrance Day is important.
"It's our ancestors, it's our family," she said.
"But it's also just important to remember so we can prevent it. I know that's what most people say but it's true. We need to learn from our past."
An important battle
In Michael Czuboka's past he rode on the caboose of a train from his his hometown, northeast of Brandon, to Winnipeg to join the military when he was only 18 years old — although he had to say he was 19.
He was born in Brandon in 1931 and during the First World War his father, a Ukrainian immigrant, was interned by Canadian authorities after being deemed a citizen of the "enemy" Austro-Hungarian empire. But it didn't stifle the family's patriotism.
During the Second World War, Czuboka watched his older brother, Walter, join the Royal Canadian Air Force.
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When he graduated high school, Czuboka said it was his turn to follow his brother's footsteps and sign up for the military. By 1950 he'd arrived in Korea; the next year he was in the middle of the Battle of Kapyong, which is considered one of Canada's greatest military achievements.
"We didn't know how important or significant this battle will be," Czuboka said, of the battle which historians have said stopped the fall of Seoul, the capital city of the south.
When Czuboka eventually returned to Canada he said he continued on with his life, but not all his fellow soldiers could do the same.
"A lot of them did experience problems after with their lives," he said.
He's returned to South Korea three times since and says he was always treated with gratitude.
More than 25,000 Canadians served in Korea — 516 died.