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National Aboriginal Veterans Day

National Aboriginal Veterans Day

Posted in: History

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Today, November 8, 2020 marks National Aboriginal Veterans Day.

On November 8, 1994, National Aboriginal Veterans Day was established by the federal government to honour the thousands of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis who served in the world wars, the Korean War, and later conflicts. The day is often marked by remembrance of those Indigenous soldiers who were killed in the wars, but also acknowledges that veteran benefits and rights were unevenly distributed to the survivors.

More than 7,000 First Nations people from Canada served in the First World War, Second World War, and the Korean War.

Check out this article from the University of Alberta to learn more about Indigenous involvement in past wars.

U of A Blog - November 7, 2019 - Honouring National Aboriginal Veterans Day

Local Connection: The St. Denys Family

(pictured left) WW1 Genieve Michelle and grandson Oliver St. Denys. Genieve was born in 1830 at Great Slave Lake. Her mother was Cree and her father was a French Hudson’s Bay factor. Grandsons John, Oliver and Louis all enlisted in WW1. Oliver was a member of the Lord Strathcona's Horse regiment.

(pictured right) WW2 Harvey St. Denys and wife, Mary Bramley. When Harvey signed up for service in World War II, he marked his nationality as French Canadian, as he could not identify as Métis. He met and married his war bride, Mary Bramley, overseas. Mary’s father, a high ranking military man, opposed the marriage, so Harvey sought permission to marry from his father-in-law’s superior. Mary’s family disowned her. Harvey and Mary had a loving and successful marriage and had two daughters, Kay and Raye.

Photos courtesy of Raye St. Denys for the 2019 exhibition, Hiding in Plain Sight: Discovering the Métis Nation in the Archival Records of Library and Archives Canada.


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