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    Sandy Silver interview April 8, 2022 CHONfm

Yukon First Nations have played a big role in Canada’s military history

Terry Grabowski and Joe Mewett with the Whitehorse Legion talked to CHONfm on Indigenous Veterans Day.

Today is Indigenous Veterans Day. A day to honour First Nations, Inuit and Métis people who have contributed to Canada’s military.

Over 4,000 Indigenous people served in World War One an over 3,000 served in World War Two.

They took on many different roles like snipers and reconnaissance scouts. Some used their language to become code talkers. People like Charles Checker Tompkins of Alberta translated radio messages into Cree so they couldn’t be intercepted by enemies.

Many Indigenous soldiers had their Indigenous rights taken away and were denied benefits that were given to other veterans when they returned home from the war.

Terry Grabowski and Joe Mewett with the Whitehorse Legion stopped by CHONfm this morning to talk about the role Yukon First Nations have played in Canada’s military.

Mewett said there is a lot of war history in the territory.

“Alex Van Bibber, I met this guy, he was fantastic. I attended his funeral and it was quite the honour to help lay him to rest. He was from Haines Junction, Champagne and Aishihik, served with the Seaforth Highlanders,” said Mewett.

“In World War Two, he was a part of secret group, if you want to call it this, that was actually sent down to the states to the Nevada testing grounds where they were doing the nuclear bomb tests,” Mewett added.

Grabowski said Old Crow contributed significantly to the war efforts during World War Two.

“Old Crow’s Chief Moses walked from his home to Alaska, carrying the communities winter furs. After selling them, he walked back to the nearest RCMP post and handed over some $400, which was a lot of money back then, to be donated to orphaned children of London England,” said Grabowski.

Grabowski also said with Remembrance Day coming up, this week can be tough for those with PTSD.

He encouraged those who might be struggling with their mental health to reach out to friends, family, the Legion, or him directly. He can be reached at branch254serviceofficer@gmail.com.

Written by: CHON

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