Westbank First Nation honours those who served on National Indigenous Veterans Day |

Ahead of Remembrance Day, Westbank First Nation gathered to recognize the military contributions that Indigenous Peoples have made on National Indigenous Veterans Day.

Despite the chilly weather, members of the RCMP and BC Dragons, veterans, West Kelowna’s mayor and community members joined Westbank First Nation to hear traditional songs, prayer and the reading of veterans’ names from the community.

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“We gather to bring people together to acknowledge all those who sacrificed so that we could have a community, our language, so that we could have our lands and each other,” said Westbank First Nation council member Jordan Coble.

“It really makes it difficult to wear that solemn emotion with you because you are just excited to see so many people coming together and recognize that Indigenous Peoples played a tremendous role in the shaping and creation of what Canada is today.”

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Click to play video: 'Canada marks Indigenous Veterans Day'

Canada marks Indigenous Veterans Day

The ceremony is traditionally held outside in front of a three-piece sculpture created by Smoker Marchand.

Tuesday’s ceremony was the first ceremony to have been held with snow on the ground.

“The three figures behind me represent the veterans who come home to our community that are often wounded and in need of care and attention,” said Coble as he pointed towards the sculpture.

“It’s our community members, our elders, and especially our women of our community who make sure there is care and protection when they return.”

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Indigenous Veterans Day has been recognized since 1994, first in Manitoba before being nationally recognized.

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Although this day is not a federal holiday like Remembrance Day, Coble says the number of people who recognize National Indigenous Veterans Day continues to grow.

“It was not that long ago that Indigenous veterans were left out and the more we can have these engagements and spread the power — because Canada would not be Canada if it wasn’t for Indigenous Peoples,” said Coble.

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