Lest We Forget – National Aboriginal Veterans Day (Nov. 8) and Remembrance Day (Nov. 11)

Posted On Tuesday November 01, 2022

On November 11, 2022, we remember and honor more than 118,000 Canadians who have died in military service over 200 years.

We have a long-established tradition that on November 10th, each year, our Kamloops-Thompson community of students, staff, parents, community members, and trustees participates in activities and assemblies to remember Canadian veterans.

This year, every school in our district has planned to honor and acknowledge veterans and those who lost loved ones in the World Wars or other battles on this day in schools and district departments.  We will begin this week of remembering lives lost on November 8, 2022, National Aboriginal Veterans Day.

The Canadian government marks this day across Canada by hosting ceremonies in which citizens learn, listen, reflect, and stand together in silence to acknowledge the important contributions made by thousands of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit veterans who served in both World Wars and in the Korean War.

Aboriginal people have a long military history in Canada, including their integral role in Canada’s efforts in the War of 1812 against the Americans. More than 4,000 Aboriginal people served in the First World War and 3,000 in the Second World War. Currently, more than 2,700 members of the Canadian Armed Forces are Aboriginal and Aboriginal soldiers have continued to serve in many deployments like Canada’s mission in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014 with the Canadian Rangers.

“Aboriginal veterans have historically been prevented from honouring lost lives of friends and family members in Royal Canadian Legion ceremonies until 1951, including Remembrance Day, said Michael Bowden, District Principal, Aboriginal Education. “It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that Aboriginal veterans and families were invited to lay wreaths or to have their own guards at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Remembrance Day.”

“Flags will be lowered at schools across the district to honour Aboriginal Veterans Day on November 8, and then again to honour Remembrance Day on November 10,” said School Superintendent Dr. Rhonda Nixon. “The Aboriginal Education Council advised that lowering the flag is an important signifier of the need to remember that Aboriginal peoples had an important role in World War I and II, the Korean War, and Canadian Armed Forces. This is one way to further Truth and Reconciliation in our community,”

 “There is a need to ensure that today’s youth have a fundamental understanding of what their great-grandparents, grandparents and in some cases, their fathers and mothers were called upon to do to defend the freedom and democracy that we enjoy today,” according to the Legion National Foundation Teacher’s Guide. “An understanding of the sacrifices that many Canadians made to preserve and protect our way of life.” 

Local branches of The Canadian Legion encourage “youth involvement in Remembrance in a variety of ways,” reports the Legion website. “From holding Remembrance ceremonies at schools, speaking with students and youth organizations about Veterans, inviting youth to participate in community and Branch commemorative services, to inviting Cadets to help with the Poppy Campaign.”

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