Métis Nation–Saskatchewan pays tribute to veterans at Batoche: ‘It is important to remember’

MN-S held a ceremony at Batoche's Indigenous Veteran's Day service, to honour fallen war heroes. Global News
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Métis Nation–Saskatchewan pays tribute to veterans at Batoche: ‘It is important to remember’

Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (MN–S) hosted their second ceremony for Métis veterans today at Batoche’s Indigenous Veterans Day service.

The service was held at the Batoche monument — a place of remembrance for fallen Métis heroes.

The service included a reading of the Act of Remembrance in Michif by Métis veteran Felix Merasty, in Cree by Elder Josie Searson, and in English by John Belanger.

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MN-S leaders and representatives from the province paid tribute by laying wreaths for veterans and Métis women who contributed to Canada’s war efforts.

MN-S President Glen McCallum said during the ceremony, “We shall never forget, in regard to the sacrifice some have made and didn’t come home and the people that have been recognized with this monument, the name — my uncle’s name is there.”

McCallum said that he was extremely pleased with the turnout for the ceremony and for the chance to share their history.

“To be able to be here and tell the story is beautiful to see,” he said.

“Those are the times that we come together as Canadians and are able to see the importance of what role our veterans played and why we get to be proud to be Canadians.

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“To be on those grounds and remember those days, how they lived and what they fought for, they understood the reality of being Métis and being who we are and being able to practice our identity, culture, values and language and you can see that it is a very special place to be in Batoche.”

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This is President McCallum’s second year serving as leader of the MN-S and he hopes to spread stories of the veterans across Canada.

“Métis people have a long history of answering the call to take up arms in defence of our rights, our families, and our country,” said McCallum.

“It is important to remember and honour the legacy and commitment of our Métis veterans. The monument at Batoche recognizes their sacrifices and allows us to remember them always.”

“There is quite a few names on that monument. So, the more people that are interested, the more people that come to Batoche or to the ceremony or hear us on media in regard to what we are saying about the importance of Métis and involvement with the Canadian Army volunteering to go out and protect our freedom. They need to know. We need to know. We should never forget.”

Felix Merasty with the Métis Veterans of Saskatchewan said that Batoche has been a special place for him since he was a child.

“I’ve been coming to Batoche since I was very young. Probably around 14 years old and I’m 65 years old now,” said Merasty.

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“It means a lot to me to come here because it is like a home. It is like a home when I come here. I set up my camp and I’m usually here for about four or five days and I enjoy the music and I enjoy the culture.”

“This ceremony means so much to me because my late dad was a veteran, a World War II veteran.

“They were never given any compensation and because of that, they suffered. They were promised land and they were promised gifts and they were promised a lot of things and they were never given to them until 2019 when the Federal government compensated the World War II veterans.”

Merasty explains that it is important to keep stories alive for generations to come.

“If we don’t do that now, they say think of the generations to come. My grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, they ask me, why do you dress like that? What is a Métis? And I have to explain to them,” he said.

“We have to teach our kids and grandkids so that the future generations know and never forget what happened to the soldiers.”

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Merasty said he wished the younger, school-aged community had a stronger presence at today’s ceremony.

“There should be bus-loads of them here,” he said. “As we progress, that is what I look forward to.”

Josie Searson, Métis elder, scout and veteran said that the ceremony offered her a chance to reconnect with familiar faces as well as meet new people in the community.

“I think there is pride in getting recognition in having been with the Armed Forces,” she said.

“Just recently, I became aware of some ladies in the Armed Forces that served during my time who are getting together now with each other after so many years and I think that’s wonderful.”

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