20th anniversary of the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument

September 22, 2021

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OTTAWA, Ontario —Hello, bonjour, [Inuktitut greeting],

I thank you for your warm welcome as we gather on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people.

Twenty years ago, on what’s now known as National Indigenous Peoples Day, my predecessor, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, stood here to dedicate this monument to Indigenous veterans. On that occasion, she said that “Its message of respect and honour will travel in the four directions and be heard by all who listen. It is a message of remembrance; it is a Calling Home.”

I’m honoured today to answer that calling. To celebrate this monument, championed by Indigenous organizations, created by an Indigenous artist to honour Indigenous soldiers and peacekeepers.

And we do remember. Remember the soldiers who fought for our freedom and values. Who served far from home, in peacekeeping missions and in horrific wars.

We remember those who stayed home, families and loved ones who supported and sacrificed so that those in uniform could serve.

We remember those who came home, never the same.

And those who would never again see their ancestral lands.

We honour their legacy.

Consider: the “code talkers” of the Second World War, sending messages in Cree that couldn’t be intercepted and understood by the enemy. Indigenous languages literally saving lives.

Or consider Willard Bolduc, an Ojibwa airman from Ontario, who earned the Distinguished Flying Cross; Edith Anderson Monture, a nurse who saved lives at an American hospital base; the dedication of Canadian Rangers in the North.

Throughout history, Indigenous veterans have bravely served on land, sea and in the air, alongside allies, believing they could make a difference.

In the words of Mike Mountain Horse, a World War I veteran from Alberta. “When duty called, we were there, and when we were called forth to fight for the cause of civilization, our people showed all the bravery of our warriors of old.”

As governor general and commander-in-chief, I thank Indigenous veterans—all veterans—as well as active military members and everyone who has sacrificed for our country.

As an Indigenous person, I’m proud of all we have accomplished, and I look to the future with great hope.

Lest we forget. N’oublions jamais.

Thank you. Merci. Miigwetch. Nakurmiik.