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Vancouver schools mark National Aboriginal Veterans Day

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Indigenous people in Canada played a significant role in the battles for peace over the last 100 years. They served the country alongside Canadians of other backgrounds but were not always recognized equally. 4,000 Indigenous people served in the First World War alone. November 8 is National Aboriginal Veterans Day and schools in the Vancouver School District will honour Indigenous people – some of whom ultimately gave their lives – protecting the nation.

November 11 is Remembrance Day and students and staff at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary plan to come together in a virtual assembly to commemorate both days. The assembly combines pictures, poetry readings, historical facts, music and dance. Staff will share a recording of the assembly in their morning and afternoon face-to-face classes on Tuesday, November 10. 

Denise Clark, vice-principal of Churchill Secondary says, with resources from Veterans Canada, the school will highlight contributions from two Indigenous veterans: Francis Pegahmagabow and Edith Anderson Monture. Pegahmagabow served in the First World War and was one of the most decorated Indigenous soldiers in the country. Monture was Canada’s first Indigenous registered nurse and the first Indigenous woman granted the right to vote in a federal election in Canada. Like Pegahmagabow, she served in World War One. Students will also see a video that shares the story of a Metis World War Two veteran.

“It’s important to honour Indigenous veterans as part of our continuous work on Reconciliation,” Clark explains. “We want our school community to know the history of Indigenous veterans' contributions in Canada's military and be aware that even though they served, they still faced discrimination afterwards…All veterans deserve to be honoured.”

Learn more about National Aboriginal Veterans Day.

Photo: student work at Grandview Elementary 

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