David Chartrand, Minister of Veteran Affairs of the Métis National Council, issued the following statement on the launch of the Métis Veterans Legacy Commemoration Program:
With great pride and pleasure, today we launch the Commemoration Program, the final element of a three-phase implementation strategy by the Métis Veterans Legacy Program.
For over 20 years, I have been meeting with our Second World War Métis Veterans and their families. I have listened to their stories – their message is consistent – all they hoped for is an apology and the recognition they deserve as men and women who risked and in some cases, sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom.
Fighting to preserve their legacy has been the driving force of my work as Minister of Veteran Affairs, resulting in a contribution agreement and an apology from Canada. I want to thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for keeping his promise to the Métis Nation and Minister Lawrence MacAulay for his commitment to these vital steps towards reconciliation.
The Commemoration Program, a first-of-its-kind national recognition legacy program, aims to unite the Métis Nation in honouring our Veterans. As a nation, we will finally tell the stories of the sacrifices made by our Veterans, by appropriately and respectfully recognizing the losses, the pain, and anguish war leaves behind.
The Program will fund projects to honour Métis Veterans, create public monuments, host ceremonies, and undertake education initiatives. The Program is designed as a permanent initiative for future generations to draw upon, so we never forget what our Second World War Métis Veterans had to endure in the name of peace and security around the world.
Since June 2019, the Métis Veterans Legacy Program has focused on reconciling with Second World War Métis Veterans. To date, 29 Veterans, 24 spouses, and the children of 5 Veterans have been presented with recognition payments. While our focus remains on Second World War Métis Veterans and their families, the Commemoration Program will be open to all eligible Métis Nation individuals, governments, institutions and organizations, and qualified Canadian individuals and organizations.
Today is a day that we look back at the neglect many of our Second World War Métis Veterans experienced and chart a new course standing side-by-side with them, as we fulfill our sacred obligation to honour and commemorate their sacrifices and contributions.
We will honour those Métis Veterans who fought, those who came home, and those who were lost and did not return. You are our heroes today, tomorrow, and forever.
David Chartrand Minister of Veterans Affairs Métis National Council