After carefully fixing up the area, members of 2837 Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Army Cadet Corps held a solemn ceremony in memory of deceased soldiers at the Veterans’ Field of Honour on the evening of June 30.
About 10 cadets were present at the special section of Lakeview Cemetery to lay Canadian flags at the grave sites of 89 recognized veterans.
Capt. Sharon Low explained that cadets sweep and clean veterans’ grave sites every spring, although there had been noticeable deterioration of the grounds in recent years, she said.
The Royal Canadian Legion Yellowknife branch provided some funding this year to allow the cadets to do some extra work at the site, including the cleaning out of rocks, painting wood and metal arches and planting flowers.
A flower pot with red poppies has also been set up at the entrance of Lakeview Cemetery this year.
On Wednesday night, the cadets marked the end of close to three weeks of rehabilitative work, placing flags in time for Canada’s birthday.
Low said the gravity of laying the Canadian flag at grave sites was not lost on her, given the unease many Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians are feeling this year with the recent and ongoing discoveries of unmarked graves of children at former residential schools.
“This is a very troubling time for Indigenous people,” Low told the cadets. “Finding the graves of young people — people your age younger — has been heartbreaking for our entire nation, and I really struggled with honouring our flag this year and also honouring our Indigenous population and those children.”
That is why she invited Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya to speak at the event.
Yakeleya was conciliatory in his remarks, thanking the cadets for their work. He noted that recognizing Indigenous and non-Indigenous veterans is an important step in reconciliation.
“It’s a good day of pride. I use my language to honour you cadets for what you have done to help with honouring especially Indigenous veterans and veterans all across Canada,” he said.
Indigenous and non-Indigenous people have fought side by side under the same flag, but Indigenous people were often not treated like brothers and sisters when they returned home from war, according to Yakeleya.
“We have talked about the respect and recognition that we are now seeing through your work to honour our veterans and to help Northwest Territories veterans through your projects,” he told the cadets. “I’m deeply humbled and honored for what you have done and it is a shining example of reconciliation.”