A wreath laying ceremony in honour Indigenous Veterans Day was held at Lakeview Cemetery at 6 p.m. on Nov. 8

Floyd Powder, a retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces, organized the commemoration.

Despite the November chill that evening, the ceremony attracted 20 to 30 people, which is within Covid-19 public health orders.

Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya was among those to lay a wreath.

Paul Falvo played “Last Post” and “Reveille” on bugle.

Powder’s speech during the ceremony reflected on how Indigenous Veterans Day was started and how Indigenous veterans were treated during the First and Second world wars, as well as the Korean War.

“People remember Indigenous Veterans Day as remembering all the good things or accomplishments, the decorations that that Indigenous veterans have made,” said Powder. “They don’t necessarily give the full explanation of the purpose behind or what started Indigenous Veterans Day.

“It started in Winnipeg in 1994, when Indigenous veterans weren’t permitted to take part in Remembrance Day ceremonies at the National Memorial in Ottawa,” he said. “The main reason was that (Indigenous) veterans from the First, Second, and Korean War, although they served shoulder to shoulder with other veterans from across Canada, when their service was completed and they returned home, they did not receive the same benefits as anybody else that they served with.”

This was primarily due to the Indian Act, he said.

Powder also directed his attention to statements made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding Indigenous veterans.

“Commonly we hear — we have statements that are issued — and it all glorifies the good things that Indigenous veterans have done,” said Powder. “Even in the Prime Minister’s speech, there’s only one line that says, ‘but throughout our history, Indigenous peoples have not always been treated equally.’ And that’s it.

“It doesn’t expand on why or what they were’t treated equally for — primarily, the benefits for those veterans in World War One, Two and Korea.

“To gloss over the reason why is, to me, doing a disservice for those veterans that were actually denied benefits.”

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