Saskatchewan

Indigenous WWII veteran Philip Favel dead at 98

A Juno Beach veteran of the Second World War, who also advocated for Indigenous veterans after the war ended, has died.

Favel advocated for Indigenous veterans after the war ended

Cree veteran Philip Favel was awarded several military medals for his efforts in the Second World War. (Zehra Rizvi)

A Juno Beach veteran of the Second World War, who also advocated for Indigenous veterans after the war ended, has died.

Philip Favel was born in Prongua, Saskatchewan, which is part of the Sweetgrass First Nation, located about 150 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.

He worked as a labourer on his father's farm before joining the Canadian Army in May 1942 at the age of 20. His father William Favel had served in the First World War.

After training, Favel was in Europe driving vital supplies to frontline troops from July 1943 to August 1945. He landed on the beaches of Normandy, France on D-Day in the summer of 1944.

A biography from the Department of National Defence says Favel helped hold, move, and issue supplies to the fighting troops as a driver, frequently going to and from the front lines to supply the troops with ammunition and gas.

"On numerous accounts, his truck's windshield was hit and smashed but Mr. Favel never stopped or turned back. He always stayed focused on the task at hand," the biography says.

Favel was awarded several military medals such as the 1939-45 Star and France's National Order of the Legion of Honor for helping an injured person and for taking care of two children while on task, according to the Department of National Defence.

After returning from the war, he was an advocate for fair compensation for Indigenous veterans, and served as grand chief of the Saskatchewan First Nations Veterans Association for several years. 

In a 2020 news release, chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance commended Favel's work following the war.

"His fighting did not end in Europe, he came home to fight for Indigenous veterans. He is a Canadian hero and I thank him for his service to his country," Vance said in the statement.

Favel was 98 years old.

With files from the Canadian Press, Penny Smoke and Bridget Yard

now