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Statement: International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
Ottawa – The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement to mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples:
“In Canada, more than 1.4 million people identify themselves as Indigenous. The First Nations, Inuit, and Métis are each distinct and integral parts of our culture and history. The Government of Canada is committed to improving the quality of life for all Indigenous peoples from coast to coast. And we recognize the important contributions that have been made and are being made by the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis here in Canada and abroad.
“In the Defence community, 12,000 Indigenous peoples served this country in the great conflicts and peace support missions from Confederation until the present day, with more than 500 giving their lives for Canada. First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people have continued to risk their lives in operations overseas, defending our values of peace, freedom, and democracy. The contributions of Indigenous Veterans over the past two centuries have helped to shape Canada, and throughout history they have overcome great challenges, while showing remarkable resilience both on and off the battlefield.
On behalf of the Government of Canada, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) encourages Canadians of all ages to remember these important military contributions. Each year, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Veterans are commemorated on November 8 during Veterans’ Week, and Indigenous peoples are commemorated annually on June 21. Canadians can learn about Indigenous peoples’ wartime contributions and sacrifices through VAC’s social media and web channels, and their stories are featured in learning materials that are shared with thousands of educators and tens of thousands of students throughout Canada. We are honoured to have Indigenous participation in signature commemorative events and delegations, such as the upcoming 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid.
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) embraces diversity through inclusive personnel policies, education and awareness initiatives, and commemorative events. Outreach to Indigenous communities by the Department of National Defence (DND) and the CAF includes summer programs for youth; high school co-op programs; and the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year at the Royal Military College of Canada. The Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group advises Commanders on issues affecting the lives of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people working at DND and serving in the CAF.
“On this day, all Canadians are encouraged to increase their appreciation and understanding of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, without whom Canada would not be the country that it is today.”
Veterans Affairs Canada
Department of National Defence
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