Canada marks Aboriginal Veterans Day

From: Veterans Affairs Canada

“On Aboriginal Veterans Day, we pay tribute to the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples who have served our country bravely and with dedication, so that all Canadians might know peace and inherit freedom.

“As we mark the 75th anniversary of Canada’s participation in the Italian Campaign, we remember Indigenous service members who served in Sicily and mainland Italy during the Second World War.

“Each year, we pay tribute the contributions and sacrifices of Indigenous veterans by sharing some of their stories.

“We honour Sergeant Tommy Prince of the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation in Manitoba. In February 1944, near Littoria, Italy, he posed as a local farmer to repair a severed Allied communications wire-in full view of enemy troops. This reconnaissance reporting resulted in destroying four German artillery positions. Tommy Prince was one of only three Canadians who earned both the Military Medal and the American Silver Star during the Second World War.

“We honour Corporal Huron Brant of Tyendinaga who was decorated with the Military Medal in Italy in 1943 for his great bravery during heavy fighting at Grammichele, Sicily. One year later, at the age of 34, the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment soldier was killed during an attack near Rimini in northern Italy.

“We honour Harry Lavallee, a Métis Veteran from Stonewall, Manitoba, who proudly served in the Second World War. Lavallee joined the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps and went on to fight in Northwest Europe as a rifleman with the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders.

“We honour John Shiwak, an Inuit soldier born in Rigolet, Labrador who enlisted in July 1915 and was part of the Newfoundland Regiment. He reached the front in France on 24 July 1916, three weeks after the regiment’s devastating losses at Beaumont‑Hamel. During the next 15 months of trench warfare, he would impress all as an exceptional scout and marksman. Shiwak’s actions in these difficult conditions earned him promotion to lance-corporal in April 1917.

“We honour Private Mary Greyeyes of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. During the Second World War, she joined the Canadian Women’s Army Corps and was the first Indigenous woman to join the Canadian Army. She was stationed in Aldershot, England, where she worked as a military support staff member before returning to Canada in 1946.

“We also honour her brother, Lieutenant David Greyeyes who commanded a mortar platoon that saw heavy action in Sicily and mainland Italy. He was one of 14 Canadians awarded the Greek Military Cross (third class) for helping the Greek Mountain Brigade during heavy fighting near Rimini in September 1944.

“Today, we remember the Indigenous peoples who have served our country with courage and valour, and we are grateful to all of the Indigenous members in the Canadian Armed Forces who selflessly help preserve our freedom today.”

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