Abegweit First Nation, soldiers gather to remember Canada's Indigenous veterans
'It's a huge part of their grievance process. It's always a tough thing to lose a fallen comrade'
Veterans, elders and community members gathered at the Abegweit First Nation Chapel Thursday to honour Canada's Indigenous soldiers.
It was the first time the community hosted the service on National Aboriginal Veterans Day.
Roddy Gould, one of the organizers, said remembering the past is an important way to move forward in reconciliation.
"Making sure that our community members know that there's an actual day that Canada celebrates our fallen soldiers and past warriors," he said.
"I think it's important that we mark this day with a celebration."
'Part of their grievance process'
In attendance were members of the army's 4 Engineer Support Regiment who were there to honour fallen comrade and Abegweit First Nation member, Erik Bernard.
Commanding officer of the regiment Lt.-Col. Jason Gale said it was an emotional ceremony.
"It's a huge part of their grievance process. It's always a tough thing to lose a fallen comrade," he said.
"They all asked to be here so we made arrangements to get them up here."
Bernard died in a car accident a year and a half ago. His mother Gloria Bernard was emotional as she reflected on her son's contribution to the country and the community.
"Where ever he was, he always kept everybody's spirits up and kept everybody happy, including himself," she said.
'I'll be walking that trail a lot'
The ceremony ended with the dedication of a new trail in Erik's honour.
Fellow regiment member Samuel St.-Pierre said Erik was not only a brother in arms, but a friend.
"To be honest, just for myself to be here today and carry on his memory for a long time to come ... is what I have," he said.
A plaque will also sit at the trail head to preserve his memory for years to come.
"I just feel so much pride, for our family and for our community. It's just wonderful and I know we'll continue it on," said Gloria.
"I'll be walking that trail a lot."
The soldiers have also named their main operating base in Slemon Park after Erik.
It's now known as Camp Bernard.
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With files from Brittany Spencer