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Indigenous Veterans Day: A veteran’s story

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Today, we honour and remember Indigenous Veterans for their service and sacrifices. More than 7,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit members served in the First and Second World Wars, as well as the Korean War. One Veterans group estimates that 12,000 Indigenous men and women served in all three wars.  In her guest writer piece, District vice-principal of Indigenous Education, Davita Marsden shares her grandfather Lambert Arnold “Monty” Marsden’s story as a veteran of the Second World War. He was a residential school survivor from Spanish Indian Residential School in Ontario.

I am an Anishinaabe woman. The ancestors give me dreams and visions of my Lakota great grandmother. My ancestral name gifted to me by my grandparents is “To See Like A Golden Eagle.” My English name is Davita Aphrodite-Lee Marsden. My clan is the Deer and Crane Clan. My ancestral territory is Mississauga’s Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) in Ontario. I currently live in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Kanata. 

I first met my grandfather Lambert Arnold “Monty” Marsden in 1990. I am a Sixties Scoop Baby and was taken at birth, so sadly, I do not have all the details. What I do remember about my grandfather is his gentle soul and regal nature. I felt respect, connection, and had love for him instantly. 

My grandfather left our MSIFN reserve after getting out of the Spanish Indian Residential School and joined the army in 1944. He was first recruited to the Camp Shilo Base in Manitoba for Parachute Training School. Looking back, I understand why he chose to serve. He wanted to create a good life for himself. My grandfather passed away in 2019.

Today on Indigenous Veterans Day, it is important to honour, remember and celebrate Indigenous Veterans because they served for our country after experiencing decades of oppression, where they did not even have the right to vote. My grandfather felt it was the right thing to do, to serve and protect the love of his people and his country. His ethics and values always took priority. It important to know that Indigenous people were there, fighting for their country even after being treated so poorly. 

On October 19, 2010, my grandfather shared his story of his time as a veteran. Listen to his story:

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