Letter from the President
It is with a great deal of pride that I share with you the some of the steps that the Aboriginal Veterans Autochtones (AVA) has made over the past number of years.
As I believe history is extremely important to who we are as individuals, nations and as First Peoples to Canada, the time to reflect on our contributions to Canada must be recognized and never forgotten. From the early days of explorers, settlers, military engagements and finally the formation of Turtle Island to what is now called Canada, we can be proud of who we are as a Peoples. History in Canada has not necessarily been kind to our ancestors and forefathers; we must never allow those facts to be forgotten. The loss of traditional and spiritual culture as well as the fear towards our cultural ways leading to the almost extinction of our identity can never be erased. However, we did not fall nor did we fail in our way of life but rather we took hold and tried to adapt to the newcomers' ways. It was not easy. Our ancestors who were our leaders chose the path they felt was the best for all and with that they moved forward.
This Remembrance Day marks a couple of genuine milestones for First Nations, Metis and Inuit Veterans and for our National organization AVA. Throughout the history of Canada, we have stood shoulder to shoulder with Canada as it fought off enemies even earlier then our involvement in the War of 1812. The War of 1812 would not have been successful in the eventual formation of this country had it not been for the efforts of our Peoples. After Canada was formed and against some of the Numbered Treaties, Aboriginals took up arms to fight alongside our brothers and sisters in arms though Two World Wars, Korea, Peacekeeping and Peacemaking operations and finally the War in Afghanistan. 1972 marked the first time that an Aboriginal was selected as the Silver Cross Mother for Canada, Mrs. Mary McLeod, an Ojibway whose son Alfred Joseph was killed in Ortona. Her wreath was laid on behalf of all Silver Cross Mothers. It was not until Twenty-Five years ago this Remembrance Day that a National Aboriginal Veterans group was allowed to lay a wreath at the National Monument. That organization was the National Aboriginal Veterans Association (NAVA) of which AVA got its roots. We must not forget those Elders who were instrumental in negotiating for federal money for the artist to create our own National Aboriginal monument in Ottawa which recognizes wartime sacrifices of our Peoples. This monument was erected in 2001 by NAVA. Additionally, the evolution of First Nations Veterans autonomous groups concurrent with Metis Veterans autonomous groups across the country. The final evolution being the creation of AVA with representative groups & veterans from across our country. AVA now represents all our representative aboriginal veterans, police forces and associates within its core principles. In Ottawa on Remembrance Day, we continue to honour our Fallen in a short but meaningful Ceremony of Remembrance. This started with just a handful of individuals and now draws the attention of more and more Veterans and others on November 11. Again, this year I encourage anyone who is in the Ottawa area to come out and honour those brave men and women who died in Foreign lands with some being buried in the soil of a Foreign country. I must also mention that on November 8 1993, NAVA through a great deal of work and pressure managed to convince the Mayor of Winnipeg to declare that Day as Aboriginal Veterans Day of which the Province of Manitoba has officially recognized this day to honour our Veterans.
In closing, I take pride in knowing that I served this country for a number of years in my life. In the trenches and on the field of battle there was no colour, no racism nor ill feelings towards our comrades in arms. The many sacrifices made by all men and women of Canada must never be forgotten by all Canadians. The only hope that we can ask is that our Political Masters fully understand the pain, suffering and the loss of life as a testament to decisions being made that lean towards conflict.
Lest we Forget