Métis veterans honoured in Batoche
Receive Order of the Métis Nation
Métis veterans from across Canada — and many of them in their 80s and 90s who served in the Korean War and Second World War — were honoured this weekend in Saskatchewan.
The former soldiers were given the Order of the Métis Nation at Back to Botache — a four day-event held in Batoche, located 50 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.
George Kelly, who served in the navy, said he felt touched to be honoured.
"You know, you think of your uncles, your aunts and all that," he said. "It's emotional."
Chuck Strahl, former minister of aboriginal affairs, also received the Order of the Métis Nation.
However, Dave Chartrand, minister of veterans for the Métis National Council, said many of the Second World War veterans are still owed benefits promised to them before they went overseas.
Chartrand said he is calling on the federal government to compensate those who served.
Federal government annouces $50,000 for memorial
Back to Batoche, which began Thursday and runs through Sunday, is an annual celebration of Métis heritage with music and dancing. It also honours Métis heroes, including Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont.
Batoche, northeast of Saskatoon, was the last battlefield in the Northwest Rebellion of 1885, where Canadian forces overcame Métis and aboriginal rebels.
On Friday night, 823 participants attempted to break a world record for the largest spoon-playing ensemble but fell short by some 540 players.
Event co-chair Robert Doucette said they would try against next year.
"True to the Métis spirit and way of life, we will keep trying until we succeed so bring your spoons out next year," he said.
Earlier this weekend, the federal government announced it would give $50,000 to build a memorial commemorating Métis veterans.
The memorial will include eight granite slabs inscribed with the names of 3,600 Métis who served during the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War and the South African War.