This week (November 5-11) is Veterans’ Week – an opportunity for us to honour the brave Canadians who served their country with courage and dedication.
While it’s a time to learn more and reflect throughout the week, Canadian Veterans’ Week is marked by two significant days –Indigenous Veterans Day on November 8th and Remembrance Day on November 11th.
What is Indigenous Veterans Day and why is it significant?
On November 8, Canadians pay tribute to the First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples who have served Canada in times of war and peace for more than 200 years, from the War of 1812 to both World Wars to Afghanistan, and who continue to serve.
National Aboriginal Veterans Day, as it was then called, was first observed in Winnipeg on November 8, 1994. It has since spread nationwide and is now known as Indigenous Veterans Day. There are some 23,000 Indigenous Veterans, and more than 2,700 Indigenous members currently serve in Canada’s military forces.
Thousands of Indigenous people proudly served in uniform during the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War. Many Indigenous communities also contributed to our country’s war efforts in other ways.
However, despite their service at home and sacrifice on the frontlines, Indigenous Veterans were subject to repeated injustices and discrimination. The government of Canada expropriated hundreds of thousands of acres of reserve lands during this era. Some of their land was also taken and given to non-Indigenous people as part of a program that granted farmland to returning Veterans – a reestablishment program that was typically denied to Indigenous Veterans. Often, they were denied access to the full benefits and supports given to other Veterans, making their transition back to civilian life even harder. Other Veterans had to give up their First Nation status to receive benefits.
Decades of advocacy, activism and protest led to a formal apology from the federal government in 2002, plus compensation for First Nations Veterans. In 2019, Métis Veterans also received an apology and a promise of compensation in acknowledgment that they also were not allowed to receive the same benefits and reintegration support as other Canadians after the war.
On Indigenous Veterans Day, we honour the service, the struggle, the courage and the sacrifice of all who serve at home, around the world and across generations.
Remembrance Day – November 11th
Every year on November 11, Canadians come together and pause in a silent moment of remembrance to honour the men and women who have served, and continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace.
We honour the 2.3 million Canadians who have served their country and the 118,000 who gave their lives in the First World War (1914-1918), the Second World War (1939-1945), and the Korean War (1950-1953), as well as those who have served since then.
On Remembrance Day we remember their service and the ultimate sacrifice they have made to protect our freedoms.
How can I get involved and learn more during Veterans’ Week?
- Attend a commemorative event: Many towns and cities across Canada will be hosting special ceremonies and events to mark Veterans’ Week, including on Indigenous Veterans Day and Remembrance Day. You can find out more about commemorative events across Canada during Veterans Week here or local Remembrance Day service here.
- Learn more through stories of service: Check out this collection of Veterans’ Week learning resources from the Canadian Government, as well as these incredible stories from Canadian Veterans, including an excellent collection of Indigenous Veterans stories.
- Show your support with a Poppy: Every year, from the last Friday of October to November 11, tens of millions of Canadians wear a Poppy to honour Canada’s Veterans and remember those who sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy today.Learn more about the significance of the Poppy here.
- Take a moment of personal reflection or observe the two minutes of silence: At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the month, day and time in 1918 when the First World War ceased hostilities, Canadians pause to observe two minutes of silence to honour the Fallen, and recognize the sacrifices or servicemen and women. Find out more about the significance of the two minutes of silence here.
Invictus Games 2025: Welcoming the world to Indigenous lands
Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler 2025 will welcome up to 550 competitors from 25 nations to experience the first ever Winter Games in Invictus Games history. With their family, friends, and the world cheering them on, wounded, injured and sick service members and Veterans will experience the unrivalled power of sport to aid in their recovery.
The Invictus Games are committed to engaging with each Nation, addressing Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, and respecting Indigenous protocols in all aspects of the Games.