Watch above: a monument unveiled at Back to Batoche Days honours Métis veterans
SASKATOON – For the past four days, over 20,000 people have come to celebrate Métis culture at the Back to Batoche Days Festival north of Saskatoon.
During this year’s event, a historic monument was unveiled.
“We built the only Métis veterans monument that will have all of the names of the Métis veterans that fought in 1885, World War I, World War II, Korea,” said Robert Doucette, president of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan.
“I’m hoping at some point it will also be the peacekeepers that fought in Afghanistan.”
Lennard Morin comes from a proud Métis military family.
“My uncle was in World War I and he was captured, and he died as a prisoner from wounds as a P.O.W. So he’s buried in France,” Morin explained.
Morin said the Métis people who fought in World War I were promised they would be heroes when they came home but that promise wasn’t kept.
“Because they were Métis, they weren’t. So they came home emotionally scarred,” said Morin.
Morin made it his goal to have a monument erected to recognize all that Métis veterans have sacrificed for Canada.
After years of lobbying and pushing for government funding, Morin’s dream was finally realized with the monument’s unveiling on Sunday.
The festival is widely recognized as the biggest Métis cultural event in Canada. It draws more than 5,000 visitors daily.
“It has been just another great year in Batoche. We’ve got people from the United States, people from all over the world. Batoche has come to symbolize a family gathering,” said Doucette.
After Sunday’s mass, Métis leaders and church members embarked on a traditional walk from the Batoche cultural grounds to the national historic site where the Bell of Batoche was brought out and rung with pride.