By Richard Lawrence
On June 21, 2017, the organization Aboriginal Veterans Autochtones (AVA) celebrated and remembered the veterans of indigenous heritage by holding the annual Remembrance Ceremony at the Aboriginal War Veterans monument in Ottawa.
It was a perfect day with temperatures in the high teens, a coolish breeze, and blue sky smattered with clouds. In attendance was the Commander of the Canadian Army, LGen. Paul Wynnyk, Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs Walt Natynczyk, and Veterans Affairs Ombudsman Guy Parent. Each laid a wreath in remembrance of the countless Canadian Armed Forces members of Aboriginal descent who served. Many other veterans groups attended, including the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping and the Korean Veterans Association (KVA) who assisted in the organization and parts of the ceremony. Attendance at the event was quite good for such a niche ceremony held in the middle of the week with probably around 200 present.
The ceremony itself followed the standard pattern of remembrance with the Commitment to Remember, the Last Post, the Silence, the Rouse, and the laying of the wreaths; the ceremony lasted about 40 minutes. However, Aboriginal ceremonies have some special touches found nowhere else, such as a smudging ceremony to cleanse the area and the bringing of the Eagle Staff ahead of the flags of the Colour Party. There was also a drumming group in attendance who played prior to and during the ceremony.
At the end, LGen. Wynnyk was asked to come forward and he was presented with a ribbon shirt, which he accepted on behalf of the Army and the Canadian Armed Forces. He was then asked to present the Aboriginal Veteran Millennium Medal to Capt. Stanley in recognition of her service, completion of her degree, and her commitment to keeping and promoting native culture and lifestyle.
The ceremony completed, the assemblage retired to the Lord Elgin Hotel for a reception.
For more photos go to: http://www.richardlawrencephotography.ca/rlpgalleries/2017/avd2017/index.html