Indigenous Veterans Day is observed in Canada on November 8, in recognition of Indigenous contributions to military service, particularly in the First World War, Second World War and the Korean War. National Aboriginal Veterans Day was first observed in Winnipeg on November 8, 1994 and has since spread nationwide.
Indigenous peoples have served in times of war and peace for more than 200 years in the War of 1812 to Afghanistan and continue to serve. For many years, that service was often overlooked and underappreciated.
Learn more about Lieutenant Brant and others by visiting Veteran Memories.
It is estimated that more than 7,000 Indigenous people served in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War, and an unknown number of Inuit, Métis and other Indigenous people also served. Some estimates indicate up to 12,000 may have served in the Canadian Forces in the past century.
Many Indigenous people also currently continue to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces in Canada and on operations around the world. They continue to uphold the proud legacy of service started by past generations.
Indigenous Veterans Day
November 8, 2021
WHEREAS on Indigenous Veterans Day, we commemorate Indigenous veterans who, throughout their history of service, have made incredible contributions to their local communities, across Canada and around the world.
Indigenous peoples have a long and deep history of military service. It spans as far back as the War of 1812 and continues to the present day. Approximately 12,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis people served in the First and Second World Wars as well as the Korean War. At the time, Indigenous people were not citizens of Canada and so were not conscripted into service.
Despite that, many volunteered for military service often overcoming challenges such as travelling far distances to enlist, learning English and facing racism.
Among those who returned from combat overseas, many faced discrimination such as denial of benefits, loss of Indian Status and expropriation of their land. For generations, Indigenous veterans were not recognized for their service.
Today, there are as many as 2,700 Indigenous peoples in uniform and Indigenous Veterans Day is observed across the country. We recognize and acknowledge their service to Canada. Today we pause, remember and honour all Indigenous veterans who have served and continue to serve.
The City of Toronto acknowledges Indigenous veterans, whose bravery, courage, service and sacrifice helps protect the peace and freedom we enjoy today.
NOW THEREFORE, I, Mayor John Tory, on behalf of Toronto City Council, do hereby proclaim November 8, 2021 as “Indigenous Veterans Day” in the City of Toronto.
On November 8, Jay Soule (aka Chippewar), Toronto-based multi-media artist from the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, unveils artwork in honour of Indigenous Veterans Day. The temporary art project is part of Toronto History Museums Awakenings program and will be available for the public to view for free at Fort York Historic Site from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day. A video piece that provides a fuller experience of the project will be available later that week at toronto.ca/museums.