We are busy getting ready to observe Remembrance Day at my school. In the past, this ceremony has been a simple one with a wreath procession, a small performance and a moment of reflection after singing the national anthem.
This year, a teacher new to our school had a different idea of what our Remembrance Day ceremony could look like. He suggested that we add a section of our ceremony to honour our indigenous veterans. I welcomed the idea and I can already feel how impactful that suggestion was to both the students and me.
In order to prepare meaningful presentations, first the students and I needed to do some research. The Veterans Affairs Canada website was a great starting point for us. Under the Veterans Affairs Canada website, there is a section that provides videos, audio clips and a lot of information about the contributions of Indigenous veterans. Below, see some links for teachers and students to get you started with your preparations.
- Short video about the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument
- Veterans Affairs Canada Page about Indigenous Veterans
But what made this preparation so impactful was helping students understand the context in which this sacrifice was made. Learning about residential schools was very emotional for the students. To help the students understand what residential schools were and the impact of them on our indigenous community we used the websites “100 years of loss” http://100yearsofloss.ca/en/ and “Where are the Children?” http://wherearethechildren.ca/en/. The students openly discussed how angry they would be at Canada if that happened to them. The also stated how sad the children’s parents must have been and how they couldn’t believe that the veterans went to fight for this country that treated them so poorly. We also have been looking at some of the other contexts at this time such as “The Enfranchisement of Aboriginal Canadians: Virtual Exhibition from the Diefenbaker Canada Centre” https://www.usask.ca/diefenbaker/the-enfranchisement-of-canadas-aboriginal-peoples/13.php Because of the limited amount of rights given to indigenous people, many didn’t receive the same support that non-indigenous people did after their service.
This is just the beginning of my learning journey and I am looking forward to sharing the experiences of me and my students while we deepen our knowledge about our indigenous people of Canada.
On November 8th, it is National Aboriginal Veteran’s day in Canada. I encourage you to watch the news and newspapers in order to share the country’s activities with your students in honouring this day.