Long Plain First Nation held its commemoration of Aboriginal Veterans Day on Monday at its cenotaph and has been doing so since 1999. Chief Dennis Meeches led the ceremony with several veterans onsite and a gathering from the community.
“Every year, we come here to this cenotaph at Long Plain and acknowledge our Indigenous war veterans,” says Meeches. “And it’s a prelude to November 11th. The next four days are quite important for all of us to remember the sacrifices our veterans have made to defend our country, Canada. We are always very appreciative and make sure that we continue to honour their memory.”
Meeches says, throughout the years, there’s been a number of residents from their community who served.
“Because of the signing of Treaty 1 in 1871, our veterans, our soldiers, helped to defend this country in times of need,” continues Meeches. “They enlisted practically at the greatest numbers of any other ethnic group in this country. And they volunteered. They didn’t have to, but they volunteered to defend Canada and the treaty. So, it’s quite significant for us.”
He says they really appreciate the support and acknowledgement of Canada on this day to remember the sacrifice that their soldiers made.
Melvin Longclaws is a veteran who notes local veteran Captain Delmar Assiniboine inspired him to join the military and says it changed his life. Longclaws says Assiniboine joined the military as a private and retired as a captain, which is quite rare, especially for the Indigenous.
At 11:15 a.m., during the ceremony, Southport Aerospace sent three helicopters in a flyby in honour of those who served from the community.