Indigenous

101-year-old Métis veteran of WWII dies in Île-à-la-Crosse, Sask.

Louis Roy, a 101-year-old Métis veteran of the Second World War, died Tuesday at a long-term care home in Île-à-la-Crosse, Sask. 

'He was loved by everyone,' says granddaughter of Louis Roy

Louis Roy was a decorated WWII Métis veteran, pictured here on Remembrance Day 2021. (Submitted by Glenda Burnouf)

Louis Roy, a 101-year-old Métis veteran of the Second World War, died Tuesday at a long-term care home in Île-à-la-Crosse, Sask. 

"He was always joking around and making the staff laugh, right up to the end," said Roy's granddaughter Glenda Burnouf. 

"He was loved by everyone."

Roy served in the Second World War as a member of the Saskatoon Light Infantry, joining the Canadian Armed Forces in 1942 at the age of 22. He served in England, Africa, Sicily and Italy. 

On Remembrance Day in 2020, the village's parade made a special stop at his care home and dignitaries saluted Roy through the window.

WATCH Louis Roy honoured in Île-à-la-Crosse:

100-year-old Métis veteran honoured by northern Sask. village

1 year ago
Duration 0:41
Île-à-la-Crosse, Sask., held a Remembrance Day parade and made a special stop for 100-year-old Métis veteran Louis Roy at his long-term living home. 

Burnouf said her grandfather came back to Canada after the war, where he was a trapper and hunter before he began a carpentry career at age 43. He had 10 children. 

He also built himself a home at the age of 85, where stayed until he moved into the St. Joseph's Health Centre long term care home. 

Burnouf said he died peacefully at the care home, not due to COVID-19. She said she is grateful for the staff there. 

"It was so hard with COVID," she said.

"I haven't been able to see him. There's only been two designated visitors. At Christmas time we were hoping to get together and we just couldn't."

The last time Burnouf saw her grandfather in person was at his 100th birthday celebration in August 2020. 

Burnouf with her grandfather at his 100th birthday celebration. (Submitted by Glenda Burnouf)

She remembers him as a constant presence in her childhood with summers spent at his cabin in Beauval, Sask.

Though he had a long life, she said losing him was still unexpected. 

"It's always hard," she said.

"You know it's coming … I knew this was going to happen someday, but you're still not prepared for it. He will be greatly missed."

One of the oldest veterans in Canada: MMF

Roy was one of the oldest veterans in Canada before his death, the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) said in a statement Tuesday. 

In 2019, the federal government made an apology to Métis veterans for not receiving the same benefits as other veterans after the war and provided $30 million in compensation. Roy was one of the first Métis veterans to receive a $20,000 payment through the Métis Nation.

"He was willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice and serve his country alongside his brothers and sisters in arms," said MMF President David Chartrand in the statement.

"Louis Roy, along with all veterans, truly are our heroes today, tomorrow, and forever." 

In an email to CBC News, the Canadian Armed Forces said it was "saddened to hear of Mr. Roy's passing."

"Canadians of his calibre go above and beyond to proudly defend their nation and we fully recognize his many contributions. We offer our sincerest condolences to his family in this difficult time and stand with them as they mourn this loss."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Renée Lilley is a reporter for CBC Indigenous. She is a recent University of Winnipeg grad with a BA in rhetoric and communications. She has reported on radio and online news in her hometown of Portage la Prairie. She is also a proud Métis mama of four girls.

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