Nishnawbe Aski Nation

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November 10, 2016

NAN HONOURS VETERANS

THUNDER BAY (November 10, 2016): The Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Executive Council will join First Nation and municipal leaders to honour the contributions of veterans of war and peacekeeping operations during Remembrance Day ceremonies across northwestern Ontario tomorrow. 

“On Remembrance Day we honour our warriors who have come to the defence of Canada in world wars and conflicts around the globe and those who serve in the defence of Canada’s interests at home and abroad,” said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “This year we recognize the distinguished service of Charles Byce, who overcame the injustices of the Indian Residential School system to become the most highly-decorated Indigenous warrior of the Second World War. We are proud that his spirit is reflected through our members who put themselves in harm’s way in the defence of others by their service in the Canadian Forces, police services and the Canadian Rangers.” 

The Executive Council supports Remembrance Day activities in urban centres and First Nations across NAN territory and will participate in the following services: 

  • Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Deputy Grand Chief Derek Fox will lay wreaths at the Mount McKay cenotaph at Fort William First Nation.
  • Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum will lay a wreath at the Waverley Park cenotaph in Thunder Bay.
  • Deputy Grand Chief Jason Smallboy will lay a wreath at the Hollinger Park cenotaph in Timmins. 

Charles Byce was born in Chapleau, Ontario. His father, Harry Byce was a highly decorated veteran of the First World War and his Cree mother, Louisa Saylors, was from Moose Factory. He is one of the few Canadians to be awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal for gallantry and valour. His father earned the same distinctions, earning them a unique place in Canadian history as the only father and son to receive these honours during two World Wars. 

A monument commemorating Charles Henry Byce was unveiled in Chapleau on September 17, 2016.

The Executive Council also recognizes the dedication and service of the Canadian Rangers, who provide vital lifesaving and security services across NAN territory. The 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group has 630 Rangers in 23 NAN First Nations.

NAN Veterans Flag image

The NAN Veterans Flag was adopted in in 2009 during the XXVIII Keewaywin Conference in Chapleau Cree First Nation. The flag honours the service and sacrifice of NAN veterans in the defence of Canada’s freedom and democracy. It is flown in all 49 NAN First Nation communities in honour of the significant wartime contributions of our veterans.

The flag was designed by artist Patrick Cheechoo from Constance Lake First Nation, a tribute to our Cree, Ojibway, Oji-Cree and Algonquin veterans. The Goose and the Bear, along with the Eagle Staff, signify the connection that First Nations people have with Mother Nature, all living things, our culture and our traditions. The Eagle Staff is a symbol of unity – there is unity within our people and our Veterans have demonstrated that there can be unity with Canada, North America and the World.  The Elder veteran carrying the staff signifies a place of honour for all veterans in our hearts and in our prayers. The rising sun depicts the daily sunrises permitted to us by the veterans to enjoy sovereignty, to protect that which was given to us by the Creator. The Seven Eagle Feathers acknowledge the Seven Sacred Teachings; teachings that guided each veteran to fight – to protect.

For more information please contact: Michael Heintzman, Director of Communications – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (807) 625-4965 or cell (807) 621-2790 or by email mheintzman@nan.on.ca

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