The Canadian federal government officially recognized the contributions and sacrifices of Métis WWII Veterans with a formal apology from Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence on September 10, 2019 at a ceremony in Regina, SK.
With Métis leaders and veterans in attendance, Minister MacAulay acknowledged the history of neglect when it comes to assisting Métis Veterans, many of whom struggled to reintegrate into civilian life following the Second World War.
"Many experienced prejudice, poverty, and a relative lack of pre-war education, vocational skills, and work experiences. We apologize that the benefits offered to Veterans after the war were not well designed to meet Métis Veterans’ specific needs," said Minister MacAulay.
Métis Veterans have a proud history of service in Canada and addressing their needs and concerns has been established as a priority in this era of reconciliation. In addition to the many Métis Veterans and elders attending the event was Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Veterans Council President, Brian Black.
“Every time there is a chance for Métis Veterans to get together is a rewarding time,” said Black. “Some of us might have served together, but if we did not, we knew people in common and our brotherhood is strong. This apology is very long overdue and welcome.”
The federal government allocated significant funds for WWII Veterans and that are to be managed by a veteran decision making committee. Payments have been made and will be made to living WWII Métis Veterans and to the families of those who have passed in the last three years.
Recently, David Chartrand, Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) President and Minister for Veterans Affairs, traveled to Ontario to fulfil the government’s promise to recognize the sacrifices of Métis Veterans. Meeting with MNO Veterans Alex Boucher and Wilfred Rochon in August, Chartrand presented both with compensation cheques to the amount of $20,000.
While financial compensation is just one aspect of reconciliation, he hopes that this will help in bringing some closure for our Métis Veterans.
Part of the apology to our Veterans and agreement with the government involves outreach to our Métis Veterans. If you are, or know of, a Métis Veteran please contact your Métis Nation of Ontario Veteran Council member.