Indigenous veterans honoured with Regina memorial
- By Julia Peterson | November 08, 2021
A memorial to honour Indigenous veterans will be unveiled on National Indigenous Veterans Day, November 8 ,near the cenotaph in Regina’s Victoria Park.
It will be one of 12 granite pedestals to honour veterans and educate the public about significant moments in Canada’s military history, which were designed by Regina’s Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
“I have long held a belief that, especially in the First and the Second World Wars, when the Indigenous veterans came home, they simply weren’t treated right,” said Brad Hrycyna, retired Army Major and president of RUSI in Regina.
“They didn’t get the same benefits that the non-Indigenous veterans did, and that has always angered me. So although it’s going to be one of the last pedestals that we put up, it was one of the first pedestals that we decided had to be amongst the 12.”
The text on the pedestal describes Indigenous peoples’ “long and proud tradition of military service” in the Canadian Armed Forces in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, peacekeeping operations and Afghanistan.
“They have done so with dedication, initiative and bravery,” the plaque reads.
“Recognized fieldcraft skills such as patience, stealth and marksmanship saw many excel as snipers and scouts. Using Indigenous languages, some of them also served as code talkers during the Second World War.”
For Hrycyna, these pedestals are particularly important as older generations of veterans are dying and can no longer tell their own stories.
“After Remembrance Day a couple years ago, myself and a couple other members from the Institute were talking,” he said. “And we were wondering just how many people who come to Remembrance Day services or walk through Victoria Park and see the cenotaph know what’s going on.
“And we felt that most people understand that the cenotaph is for remembrance of our veterans, but probably many fewer of them understand what they should be remembering.”
Hrycyna says it has been gratifying to see everyone from community members to politicians coming out to see the pedestals. Members of Parliament, MLAs, Regina mayor Sandra Masters and many local veterans have come to the unveilings. So has Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty.
“I feel strongly that we owe our veterans and military people our sincere thanks for their service to our country,” said Mirasty. “My wife Donna and I have attended all the Royal United Services Institute pedestal unveilings at the Cenotaph in Regina, and we appreciate RUSI’s efforts to honour veterans and to provide public education.”
The Mirastys will be in attendance when the Indigenous Veterans pedestal is unveiled as well.
“Donna’s father and uncles served in the Second World War,” he said. “Donna’s father was wounded and carried the scars for the rest of his life. Indigenous veterans did not receive the same benefits as non-Indigenous veterans after the war.
“I am thankful to RUSI for creating a plaque in honour of Indigenous veterans, who have, and continue to make important contributions to the Canadian Armed Forces.”