'We need to be there for the veterans': ceremony at Alberta legislature marks Indigenous Veterans Day

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The 75-year-old from Lesser Slave Lake was at the Alberta legislature Monday morning, one of thousands of Indigenous veterans honoured in ceremonies marking Indigenous Veterans Day.

Sinclair is of Cree and French ancestry, one of many members of his family to serve in the military. He was trained in communications and stationed both in Europe and Canada.

While records are often not clear, an estimated 12,000 Indigenous people joined the Canadian military during the First and Second World Wars as well as the war in Korea.

More than 500 were killed and countless more injured.

“As this country reckons with the wrongs committed to Indigenous peoples and pursues the process of reconciliation, this day takes on a greater meaning,” said MLA Brad Rutherford, the government’s military liaison to the Canadian Armed Forces, before laying a wreath at the Edmonton ceremony.

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“True reconciliation includes taking the time to remember the contributions and accomplishments of Indigenous veterans and those who continue to serve.”

Sinclair continues to work with veterans’ organizations and Alberta Health. He said it’s time to move beyond writing reports about what Indigenous veterans need and focus on concrete actions such as helping with housing.

“Calgary built them nice homes, but don’t forget us across the river over here called northern Alberta. That’s what we’re standing up (for) now as veteran speakers. We need to be there for the veterans.”

Sinclair said he spends much of his time building relationships and speaking with Indigenous veterans, many of whom still struggle to share stories of their experiences.

“On behalf of all my friends, veterans, comrades, Army, Navy Air Force, the cadets today — let’s continue to support them. Let’s show up, like today. To have something like this dedication, this is important,” he said.

ajoannou@postmedia.com

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