Neglected 'far too long': Aboriginal veterans finally honoured in Calgary ceremony

Canada's indigenous soldiers were honoured at Calgary's military museum to mark National Aboriginal Day. It is the first time the event has been hosted at the museum.

National Aboriginal Veterans Day ceremony held at Calgary's military museum for the first time.

Traditional drummers help open the National Aboriginal Veterans Day Ceremonies at the Military Museum in Calgary. (Erin Collins/CBC)

Dancers, drummers and even a federal minister were all on hand to mark National Aboriginal Veterans Day in Calgary.

The ceremony was held for the first time at Calgary's military museum, since the event was established in 1994.

Trin Knight helped open the ceremony by playing a traditional drum for several dancers who were on hand. Knight also shared Indigenous veteran's songs and traditional teachings at the event.

Trin says his grandfather served in World War II and had a huge influence on his life. "His name was Chief David Knight —  what I do today was part of his influence, his teachings," Trin said.

Trin Knight's grandfather served in World War II. Knight helped open the National Aboriginal Veterans Day ceremony at Calgary's Military Museum. (Erin Collins/CBC)

That impact of indigenous veterans, like his grandfather, is one reason Trin says that having a day to honour aboriginal soldiers who fought for Canada is important.. 

"Coming together and doing this is a sign you know were starting to reconcile, were starting to heal as native people that's how I look at this day," Trin said.

Federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett attended the ceremony. She agrees that marking the sacrifice of aboriginal veterans is an important aspect of reconciliation.

"It was important to set a separate day for indigenous veterans because they have been neglected for far too long," Bennett said.

Federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs attended the National Aboriginal Day Ceremony in Calgary. (Livia Manywounds/CBC)

The government estimates that more than 12,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis Canadians served during the First Second, and Korean wars alone. More than 1200 indigenous Canadians currently serve in Canada's military.

Bennett called the ceremony at the military museum a "huge success" adding that it was "wonderful in terms of not only ceremony but celebration of culture and teachings."

The military museum will also host Remembrance Day ceremonies on Sunday morning. 

About the Author

Livia Manywounds is a reporter with the CBC in Calgary, a rodeo competitor and a proud member of the Tsuut’ina First Nation.