Whitehorse Daily Star

Tribute’s absence was disrespectful: LFN citizen

A member of the Liard First Nation is calling out the Yukon government for failing to acknowledge Aboriginal Veterans Day on Nov. 8.

By Taylor Blewett on November 14, 2017

A member of the Liard First Nation is calling out the Yukon government for failing to acknowledge Aboriginal Veterans Day on Nov. 8.

Melody Janz told the Star she was following the government’s activities through the media last week. She saw no evidence that the Yukon Liberals nor any other MLAs had publicly recognized the significance of the day for the territory’s First Nations.

First observed in 1994, Aboriginal Veterans Day is a day of remembrance recognized by the Government of Canada on its Veterans Affairs website.

Federal cabinet ministers issued a joint statement last Wednesday to mark the day. They honoured “the contributions and sacrifices that Indigenous peoples have made while serving in uniform.”

It is observed across the country – and the Yukon should be no exception, according to Janz.

“This day is a very huge day with veterans, war veterans, from all the First Nations and First Nations ancestries that fought in wars, gave up their status rights and became war citizens.

“They weren’t acknowledged back in the day, being Aboriginal, that they were Canadian at all.”

Traditionally, the Yukon government marks special days, celebrations and anniversaries by way of daily tributes in the legislative assembly when it is sitting. The house was in session last Wednesday.

Liberal, Yukon Party and NDP MLAs rose to recognize National Skilled Trades and Technology Week as well as World Town Planning Day.

To Janz, this equates to “‘we don’t acknowledge you, but we are here, running your territory and walking on your land.’ And I find that right now, very disrespectful.”

She said she made calls to the premier’s office and the cabinet office, questioning why no mention had been made of Aboriginal Veterans Day.

She never received an answer.

Janz is now calling for a government apology for the oversight.

“I believe the government should have been an example. Sandy Silver has Aboriginals in his seats. Sandy Silver is supposed to be looked up to as a leader in the Yukon government, and I believe Sandy Silver should have been leading the acknowledgment of November 8.”

Sunny Patch, a cabinet spokesperson for the Liberals, told the Star this morning that while the government did not make a specific tribute to Aboriginal veterans in the house at all this year, they did lead a tribute to all veterans last Thursday.

There was no specific reference to Aboriginal nor Indigenous veterans in this tribute.

“This wasn’t a statement on recognition of any one particular group of veterans in any way,” Patch said.

“We just chose to honour all veterans on the ninth because that’s the day we were doing a tribute on Remembrance Day.”

As for future years, Patch said the government will discuss the possibility of an Aboriginal Veterans Day tribute.

“We value and deeply respect the sacrifices of all veterans, including the Aboriginal veterans for sure.”

Kate White, the Yukon NDP’s house leader, acknowledged via email this morning that going without a tribute in the legislature for Aboriginal Veterans Day was a mistake, “one that we won’t allow to happen again.”

She said she will bring up the issue with her Liberal and Yukon Party colleagues to make sure the day is “given proper acknowledgement” in the house next year.

“We are convinced that all members of the legislative assembly will want to recognize critical contribution of First Nations’ service men and women on this important day,” White wrote.

The Yukon Party emailed a statement to the Star early this afternoon. In it, the official Opposition pledged to converse with the other parties to ensure Aboriginal Veterans Day sees future recognition in the legislature.

“The contributions made by Indigenous veterans and those currently serving in the Canadian military have and continue to play a significant part in our country’s history,” the Yukon Party’s statement read.

MLAs did not specifically observe the day in November 2015. They did not sit in November 2016 due to that month’s territorial election.

An Aboriginal Veterans Day ceremony was held in Dawson City last Wednesday morning at the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre. It included prayer, a smudging ceremony, and recognition of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in veterans. (See coverage, p. 5.)

Veterans Affairs Canada estimates that 7,000 First Nations members served in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War.

The Council of Yukon First Nations declined to provide comment for this story.

Comments (19)

Up 29 Down 5

ralpH on Nov 17, 2017 at 12:29 pm

@fedup I sympathize with Your Grandfathers plight. But this happened to all veterans that came back from wars right up till the Korean War. I believe veterans compensation did not come till the sixties or early seventies. I also know at the Ottawa wreath laying I always saw aboriginal representatives there and that was the seventies. As for status I believe that all changed back under Trudeau in the seventies - someone can correct me on those dates. My point is every veteran came back with a set of special challenges. We as Canadians did not fully understand their sacrifices. Now more than ever before we are doing that. So a veteran is a veteran, is a veteran regardless of any other challenges they may have faced at home after. Just allow this to be a neutral event with out politics or racial interference please. Not the place for it.

Up 13 Down 22

Fed Up on Nov 17, 2017 at 7:27 am

Indigenous Peoples in Canada have fought on the front line of every major battle Canada has been involved in, and have done so with valour and distinction. It is estimated that 7,000 First Nations People served in the First and Second World Wars, and the Korean War; an unknown number of Métis, Inuit and non-Status Indians also served. However, it was not until 1995, fifty years after the Second World War that Indigenous Peoples were allowed to lay Remembrance Day wreaths at the National War Memorial to remember and honour their dead comrades.
After the First World War, they did not receive the same assistance as other returned soldiers under the War Veterans Allowance Act; this policy endured from 1932 until 1936. Many Aboriginal veterans from the Second World War found that when they returned home after fighting overseas for Canada, they were no longer considered Indians because the Indian Act specified that Indians absent from the reserve for four years were no longer Indians.

Many Aboriginal soldiers had to become enfranchised before they could sign up to fight in the Second World War, which meant that when they returned to their home communities, they no longer had Indian status.
I hope this makes many of you look at this issue a little clearer .
My Grandfather served in WW ll and was never recognized as a vet, financially or physically. He never once name called or showed any ill will in this matter in front of us.
I am so Grateful he taught us to NOT paint all non-natives with the same brush, shame no one was there to teach many of you the same lesson.

Up 11 Down 5

Josey Wales on Nov 16, 2017 at 6:40 am

Hey BnR....wanna read something scaaaary?
I Josey, completely agree with you disagreeing.
See often when folks of a diametric philosophy get to thinking about core values and things based on reality, commonality is often there.
As in this particular “issue” which in my estimations is a political or supremacist tactic.

...every character within terms, in particular the last sentence.

Up 40 Down 15

jc on Nov 15, 2017 at 9:21 pm

Aboriginal Veterans Day? Never heard of it. And is there anything that doesn't offend these people? Try putting some taxes in the kitty.

Up 39 Down 3

Rox on Nov 15, 2017 at 8:36 pm

My son has done two tours in Afghanistan. Trained with his peers and fought with casualties. Does anybody really think what nationality or religious rights they where thinking about? Give your heads a shake. They lost some and some came home. Let's look after them all with open hearts❤️

Up 46 Down 6

Just Say'in on Nov 15, 2017 at 2:04 pm

If you look at the photos provided by the Star you will see an effort was made by the Star to show Photos of First Nations in uniform and women and girls. Really how special do you want to be that you need your own day? Does that mean that your Veterans from your land, that we walk on will only be attending your ceremony?
You have your own Grad Ceremonies for your kids as well, but you still go to the regular Grad. What is it you want? Self imposed segregation? This is a dangerous type of attitude, that may create a negative result.

Up 9 Down 60

Al Atlintino on Nov 15, 2017 at 11:54 am

They should be mentioned and honoured.

Simple adjustment for positive relationships.

Up 89 Down 7

Just stop on Nov 15, 2017 at 11:35 am

A veteran is a veteran, black, brown or green. Remembrance Day is to celebrate ALL veteran's. I don't see the need to have a whole separate day. If you want to be included, consider yourself included!

Up 81 Down 5

Kj on Nov 15, 2017 at 2:08 am

Yes...let's make Remembrance Day a political issue.
How about we use the day to remember veterans of all variety’s from the great wars. Oh wait...I thought that’s what we did.
I feel no need to mention exclusively every religious, ethnic group, culture group etc by name during the ceremony. If someone says they can’t partake in the ceremony..yes that is bad. Has anyone ever stopped a fn war vet from taking part in the ceremony? Everyone gets together as a SINGLE GROUP and remembers EVERYONE who served...that is the ceremonies that I attend every year.
Stop making this a political beach ball, it is the one day a year I would like to forget politics.

Up 40 Down 5

Ginger Johnson on Nov 14, 2017 at 10:31 pm

This was "important" to Melody Janz ??!!
So did she mention this to the newish Premier well in advance to make sure that it was going to be handled properly ?

Up 81 Down 7

Thunder on Nov 14, 2017 at 8:02 pm

Ms. Janz in my opinion should be embarrassed for trying to make this a political issue, it is a day to honour all veterans. Kate White should also be embarrassed for falling into the trap with someone who seems to have an axe to grind. Stand up for all veterans and don't try and single out certain veterans over others, did aboriginal veterans make an important contribution? Of course they did but so did many other ethnic groups who are not specifically singled out. This should be a day to honour all veterans and not take any of the recognition away to push forward a political platform.

..."Running your territory and walking on your land", this is obviously a political statement and Ms. Janz should be ashamed of herself for shining the limelight on herself instead of where it belongs; all veterans. And maybe this isn't politically correct but I was born here and consider this my land as well, I respect first nations people but throwing rhetoric like that around is no way to make your point.

Up 76 Down 5

Charles on Nov 14, 2017 at 6:50 pm

I was unaware of a separate day, but Nov 11 is Internationally recognized as Veterans' Day for all veterans regardless of race, color or creed so I do not understand why there is a separate day. Are there other individual days, based on ethnicity, that I don't know about? All veterans served for a common cause. Why do we need to make distinctions after death for those who lost their lives?

Up 79 Down 5

BnR on Nov 14, 2017 at 6:02 pm


I completely disagree with the need for a separate aboriginal Veterans Day.

Up 59 Down 5

For gods sake on Nov 14, 2017 at 5:49 pm

I am disappointed that any one would want to segregate nationalities just because they are saying that now governments are acknowledging First Nation individuals fought in Canadian wars.
When our grandfathers, husbands, sons go to war, they later realize that the men around them our there family. Because of the danger, the outcome that every soldier back in those horrific wars knew coming home was not an option.. They stood by their brother, whatever race he was, that soldier did not care, because each soldier needed each other to survive and also to pull each other out of harms way. On Veterans Day we all celebrate each soldier with equal honour and respect, without judgment or neglect. They fought for our country to give us freedom and solidarity to be one country as a whole.

Up 68 Down 5

Guncache on Nov 14, 2017 at 5:20 pm

It is not necessary to center out one group over another. Should we have one day for Anglos, one for the Chinese, one for the myriad of nationalities who fought for Canadas freedom? Janz, Kate and others, get a life and pursue a real cause, don't cry about a problem that doesn't exist

Up 62 Down 4

ralpH on Nov 14, 2017 at 5:10 pm

@nile agreed! All Vets served as sacrificed the same. Are we now to role call every nationality at these events. Remember Ms Janz if you are on the band wagon of mutual respect and an even playing field for First Nations, then what you advocate for here is putting one group above the rest. Makes me wonder.

Up 52 Down 5

Josey Wales on Nov 14, 2017 at 5:05 pm

Melody needs to get over herself, the day covers everyone.
Maybe next war we will send folks out in waves of whatever group they identify with, should keep the folks whom thrive on division and segregation happy. Mind you if your happy, no future payouts?
The victim industry needs folks as she to keep feeding it.
Given the news everyday, the fabricated outrage and absolute injustices....? Lest we have forgot, everyday regular folks banded together to do amazing feats DESTROYING toxic ideologies and tyranny.
Today, we whine about non issues as this, apologize for the acts of barbarism, make excuses for the seventh century sycophants....and payout their soldiers.
Melody they have not forgotten about just the cultural elites, but all the lesser regular people that stood and fell too.
We now have zealots that whilst the jack boots might be gone... the agenda is every bit as toxic.
....till the next poor fluff piece.

Up 124 Down 11

Nile on Nov 14, 2017 at 3:23 pm

REEEEEEEE more sjw's triggered by a nothing issue. We don't need to dilute Remembrance Day importance by having separate days for everyone.

Up 65 Down 7

ProScience Greenie on Nov 14, 2017 at 3:12 pm

“We just chose to honour all veterans on the ninth because that’s the day we were doing a tribute on Remembrance Day.” “We value and deeply respect the sacrifices of all veterans, including the Aboriginal veterans for sure.”

Nothing wrong with that egalitarian reply. Funny to see the YP and NDP competing to see who can be the most PC.
---------
We have a World Town Planning Day? Rather smug considering the mess many of them make of things. Especially in the CoW.

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