Remembering the struggle of Aboriginal veterans during the War

Jeff Malo / November 8th, 2018

Aboriginal veterans wear traditional attire to commemorate aboriginal culture. (Kareem Gouda/BCIT News)

On November 8th, Vancouver hosted to National Aboriginal Rememberance Day.

Aboriginal veterans and emergency services workers took the streets starting at Carnegie Centre Theater and marched all the way to Victory Square Cenotaph for a special ceremony.

Aboriginal veterans were encouraged to wear traditional dress, carry national flags, community banners and play the drums.

This recognition is far from what Aboriginals soldiers received during times of war.

“During the First World War, Canadians veterans all got land. Most of the lower Fraser Valley was settled by veteran land grants. Aboriginals didn’t get the land grants. Same thing after the Second World War.” – Larry Richard Arquell, Navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force and Metis Jibway

Arquell explained that Aboriginals had to give up their Native status to join the British military, which led to them not being considered Canadian citizens, and therefore ineligible to receive any land rights.

Arquell said that even though Aboriginal veterans were not compensated for their war efforts, four thousand Aboriginals still fought in World War II.

While Aboriginal rights have come a long way since the War, Arquell points out that Aboriginal veterans had to create a day of commemoration for themselves because of refusal from the Royal Canadian Legion.

Larry Richard Arquell with his dog at the National Aboriginal Remembrance Day Parade. (Kareem Gouda/BCIT News)

“We weren’t really able to participate in the first Remembrance Day parade because the Legion didn’t want us to have drums and that kind of stuff, so we started our own Remembrance Day, November the 8th. And now we are a creature of the federal government.” – Larry Richard Arquell, Navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force and Metis Jibway

November 8th is officially recognized as National Aboriginal Remembrance Day and is in its 14th year running.

-With files from Kareem Gouda