August 3, 2019 Winnipeg, Manitoba Parks Canada Agency
Today, Parks Canada, in collaboration with Treaty No.1 First Nations and the Canadian Armed Forces, held a ceremony to pay tribute to the late Thomas “Tommy” Prince, one of Canada’s most decorated Indigenous veterans. The veteran of the Second World War and Korean War was recognized for his efforts, achievements, and sacrifices while serving with the Royal Canadian Engineers, the First Special Service Force (commonly known as “the Devil’s Brigade”), and later the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
An Anishnaabe activist, war hero, and the father of five, Sgt Tommy Prince remains a source of inspiration and pride for his people and for Canada. Following his honourable discharge from the army, Prince became a prominent leader of the First Nations rights movement. However, military service had taken a heavy toll on his health and he faced a difficult return to civilian life in Manitoba, enduring discrimination, illness, and poverty in the years prior to his death in 1977.
Prince’s legacy lives on with the naming of a cadet corps, roadways, buildings, scholarships, and programs in his honour, as well as a monument in Winnipeg’s Kildonan Park. Parks Canada is pleased to pay tribute to Sgt Tommy Prince as a “Hometown Hero,” and to recognize the many veteran members of the seven Treaty No. 1 First Nations.
The commemorative ceremony was held on the grounds of Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site with hundreds of community members and dignitaries in attendance. The event featured the firing of a historic cannon, a military band and parade, ceremonial hand drumming, the unveiling of a story panel, and ended with a fly pass from the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The Government of Canada is committed to developing a system of national heritage places that commemorates the contributions of Indigenous peoples, their history and cultures, and respects the special relationship Indigenous peoples have with traditional lands and waters.
Sgt Prince joins a growing list of Canadians who have been recognized for their achievements during the First or Second World Wars. Launched by Parks Canada in 2015 as a community-based initiative, Hometown Heroes honours and tells the stories of ordinary citizens, both military and civilian, who contributed to Allied efforts during the two World Wars, and also provides Canadians with unique opportunities to connect with their history.