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Métis Veterans Monument Unveiled at Batoche

Jul 15, 2014

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Since the dream of building a Métis Veterans Memorial Monument at Batoche came to light, several Métis individuals and organizations including GDI, Métis artists and scholars, veterans, families and friends, have worked hard to make the dream a reality. Four years ago this month, the site of the Memorial Garden at Batoche was officially designated as the venue for the Monument at a ceremony that was attended by the Honourable John Duncan, then Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

On July 19, 2014, the Métis Veterans Memorial Monument was unveiled to the public at the Batoche Memorial Garden. The monument is a national tribute honouring Métis servicemen and servicewomen from across Canada who served our country during the South African (‘Boer’) War (1899-1902), World War I (1914-1918), World War II (1942-1945), and the Korean War (1950-1953).

GDI Executive Director Geordy McCaffrey was the master of ceremony. He noted that GDI is proud to be involved in the project. He said that the names of the veterans will be inscribed on the monument by 2015. Currently there are over 7,000 names of Métis veterans from across Canada who served in the war.

Métis National Council President Clément Chartier stated that “To witness the unveiling of a magnificent monument for our veterans on this sacred soil of the Métis Nation is a powerful and poignant experience for me.” In paying tribute to Lenard Morin, the Regional Director for Métis Nation-Saskatchewan Eastern Region I, President Chartier said, “This monument speaks to the vision and determination of Lenard Morin, a great Métis patriot, and to the superb work of the Gabriel Dumont Institute in fulfilling that vision.”

Describing the monument as a “crown jewel,” President Chartier expressed his appreciation to Métis women including those who served and those who stood by the Métis veterans. He talked of recently “discovered” Métis veteran of World War II who currently lives in England and how efforts are underway to establish communication with him.

Lenard Morin gave a brief history of the contribution of the Cumberland House to Canada’s war efforts. He noted that from Cumberland House, where he was previously the mayor, 28 men and women served in the World War I, 32 in the World War II, and four in the Korean War. Morin’s uncle also served overseas.

President of the Manitoba Métis Federation David Chartrand stated that Métis veterans should always be remembered, not just once a year.

Rob Clarke, MP for Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, SK, brought greetings from Hon. Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada.  He said that the Métis veterans’ monument is “a fitting tribute to all Métis people.” Clarke stated that Métis veteran Jim Durocher recently lost his wife and so could not attend the ceremony.

The MLA for Batoche, Delbert Kirsch, described the event as the “largest celebration of Métis culture and sacrifice in North America.”

Donny Parenteau, whose four uncles have served in the Canadian military, encouraged the audience to always be ready to serve their communities as veterans did in the past. Andrea Menard received a round of applause for her song that touched on the important contributions of (Aboriginal) women.

All speakers expressed their appreciation to the Institute for its leading role in making the Métis Veterans Memorial Monument a reality.

In conjunction with the unveiling of the monument, about 100 youth, soldiers, and veterans known as “Honour Runners,” including those who are not Métis, ran 100 km from Saskatoon to Batoche to recognize the contributions made by Métis veterans. The runners were acknowledged at the festival. This year’s annual Back to Batoche Days took place from July 17 to July 20.

Gabriel Dumont Institute leads fundraising efforts for the Monument and issues tax receipts on behalf of the project. To date, over $235,000 has raised. Please submit veterans’ names and information to veterans@gdins.org or call 306 242 6070.

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Gabriel Dumont Institue

GDI is a Saskatchewan-based educational, employment and cultural institute serving Métis across the province

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