Members from Métis Nation-Saskatchewan and First Nations in the province convened Tuesday morning in Batoche, some 89 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, to honour Indigenous veterans.
Wreaths woven with poppies were laid at the Batoche National Métis Veterans Memorial Monument in honour of all Métis veterans.
Métis Nation-Saskatchewan president Glen McCallum’s uncle’s name is one of more than 5,000 engraved on the monument.
“It gives me great pleasure to see the interest we still have in regards to Canada and how our people, First Nations and Métis, stood up for the right to be free,” McCallum said.
“We shall never forget the sacrifice that some have made who didn’t come home, and the people recognized in this monument.”
The gathering included acts of remembrance and prayers from Indigenous elders, ceremonial songs and a moment of silence.
Elder Norman Fleury ended the ceremony by thanking Métis and First Nations veterans and active service members who have fought for self determination and self governance.
“We give thanks to all those who sang beautiful songs in memory of our relatives and as Métis to fight for what we belong and what is ours: our land, our language, our distinction, our ceremonies,” Fleury said.
“We’re still here, we’ll always be here and we give thanks for that to our creator.”
Aboriginal Veterans Day was founded in Manitoba in 1994 and has since spread across the country.
Veterans Canada estimates that as many as 12,000 indigenous people served in the great conflicts of the 20th century, with more than 500 losing their lives.