Favel still fighting for fair treatment
- Morning Star | November 19, 2019
Philip Favel is a 97-year-old veteran from the Sweet Grass First Nation. Favel enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces in 1941 at the age of 19. While overseas, Private Favel served in France, Belgium and Holland and returned home to North Battleford in July of 1945.
According to Veterans Affairs Canada, at least 3000 First Nations members enlisted in World War II. Those who enlisted, Favel is the oldest surviving member.
In his lifetime, Favel was an activist who fought for compensation to Indigenous Veterans who were excluded from the benefits that non-First Nations veterans received. His efforts resulted in compensation to First Nations veterans by the government. Now his advocacy extends both to himself and his reserve. Philip explained that he was given land on the Sweet Grass First Nation Reserve.
“That land was given to me by the Government and the Department of Veterans Affairs,” he said. “They didn’t explain things right about the land off reserve.”
There is an issue with the process the government used to allocate land for First Nations Veterans.
“The land that the government awarded to Veteran Philip Favel cheated both the First Nation band and the veteran Philip Favel,” said Chief Laurence Paskemin of Sweet Grass First Nation.
The band is currently suing the government for compensation from Loss of Use. According to the Senate of Canada “Non-First Nations veterans could purchase land from Canada with a small loan from the federal government, but First Nations veterans who applied for loans were told they were limited to Certificates for Possession in the purchasing of reserve land.”
“There is evidence that many Indian Agents did not tell First Nations Veterans of all their available options, but only what the agent thought they should receive,” stated Matthew Coon-Come at the Proceedings of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs in 2001. “In particular, the federal government provided benefits to non -First Nations veterans that were not made available to or not made easily accessible to First Nations veterans, such as land grants, education, retraining and loans. In some cases, First Nations lands were expropriated to compensate non-First Nations veterans.”
Veteran Favel arranges the files in his briefcase as he ponders the outcome of the court case. He hopes to see the reserve and his family compensated while he is living.
“Who knows how much longer I will be here,” he said.