The Minister of National Defence Video Message for National Indigenous History Month

Video / June 29, 2021


National Indigenous History Month has been a time of learning and reflecting on the history of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples across Canada.

Many of us are learning more about the rich history, traditions, and achievements of Indigenous Peoples across the country…

Including in my own community of Vancouver, which was built on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

Many of us have realized that we still have a lot more to learn.

The country is in mourning following the findings of the remains of Indigenous children at several former Residential Schools.

Tragically, we know there are many more cases of unmarked graves at sites across the country, and many more horrific stories yet to be uncovered.

These events have led many of us to take a deeper look at the more painful parts of our past and how they have shaped our present…

The ongoing harms that challenge our ideals as Canadians.

We all have a role to play in building a more equitable future…

A future where Indigenous Peoples are self-determining and equal partners in a nation-to-nation relationship built on respect and trust.

National Indigenous History Month is a time for all of us to seek out a better understanding of our history, to walk the path together toward these goals.

And a time to celebrate the diverse heritage and remarkable achievements of Indigenous Peoples.

Across the Defence Team, people are learning more about the proud legacy of Indigenous people in uniform.

We’ve drawn inspiration from people like Edith Anderson Monture, a Mohawk woman who served as a nurse during the First World War.

She was determined to save lives, but Canada’s discriminatory policies were such that she had to move to New York to complete her training.

She enlisted as a member of the American Expeditionary Force in 1917, and spent a year treating wounded soldiers in France, before eventually coming home to Canada.

We’re also moved by the legacy of Chief Petty Officer, First Class Ted Jamieson, a member of the Six Nations Upper Cayuga Band who served in both the Second World and Korean Wars.

He was an expert in anti-submarine warfare deployed to Korea on HMCS Iroquois.

He was onboard when the ship was attacked on October 2nd, 1952 - an attack that led to the Royal Canadian Navy’s only battle casualties during the war.

He survived, and served in the Navy until 1960, eventually becoming a Senior Instructor at the Artillery School in Halifax.

National Indigenous History Month has been a great opportunity to seek out stories like these—stories that inspire us to this day.

But it’s important for us to remain engaged and keep learning year-round.

Wherever you are, keep these conversations going.

Seek out Indigenous cultural events, courses, authors, music and any other opportunities to gain a greater understanding of the lived experiences of Indigenous Peoples across Canada.

Take time to read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, and understand the role each of us must play in fostering a renewed relationship with Indigenous communities.

Learn more about their histories, celebrate their achievements, and support the healing process with compassion, care, and understanding.

Meegwech, Thank you, Merci beaucoup.

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