Rhonda Lee McIsaac
Beaded poppies are appearing more often amongst Indigenous leaders and community members across Turtle Island. Over 7,000 First Nations people served in World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Korean War. Each bead in a beaded poppy represents a prayer for their contribution. Nobody knows for certain how many Inuit, Métis and Indigenous people served.
Haida citizens also served in the military, although we do not have a complete list. With each passing year, we who remain must remember those who served and survived and those who gave up their lives on foreign battlefields.
This past year Haida hereditary leaders Gaahlaay and Stithlda attended the commemoration of “Canada’s most fightingest ship” HMCS Haida. The Tribal-class destroyer served in the Second World War, the Korean Conflict and the Cold War. After distinguishing itself in several historic battles, the Royal Canadian Navy’s most famous ship now proudly rests as a museum ship in Hamilton Harbour. It is the only surviving Tribal-class destroyer.
Haida Gwaii provided crucial natural resources during WWII. Old-growth kayd Sitka Spruce is well grained, tough, and straight, making it important for manufacturing airplanes. Haida Gwaii ts’uu Red cedar and sGaahlan Yellow cedar logging also increased to support the war effort.
Aboriginal Veterans Day is commemorated on November 8. Since 1994, Aboriginal Veterans Day has been a way to pay respect to Indigenous peoples for their contributions to Canada’s military efforts. Through their bravery and dedication they earned many military decorations.
Since 1931, GudGanang Sii.ngaay Remembrance Day is commemorated on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month to honour the fallen. Everyone will observe a moment of silence on November 11 for Remembrance Day ceremonies at Howard Phillips Community Hall in Gaw Massett and at RCMP Station in Daajing Giids Queen Charlotte at the 10:30am. The communities will provide refreshments and entertainment throughout the day at the Legion hall. From those who fought in the land, sea, and air to those who served on the home front, we remember you.