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In recognition of Canada’s Aboriginal veterans, senators from CUPE’s National Aboriginal Council took part in a pipe ceremony to mark Aboriginal Veterans’ Day at the Carnegie community centre in Vancouver.

Over 100 people attended the CUPE-sponsored event, which featured traditional drumming, dancers and singers, speakers from a number of different First Nations, and elected officials from each level of government.

Grand Chief Stuart Philip spoke of on the meaning of the date and the importance of recognizing our Aboriginal veterans through the pipe ceremony, which helps to the spirit of those who have passed on with us.

Aboriginal veterans faced many forms of discrimination, and were often denied post-war benefits awarded to other veterans. Chief Philip also addressed the importance of recognizing Chinese veterans, as they too faced similar discrimination.

Following the ceremony, attendees marched to the cenotaph in Victory Square, where members from CUPE B.C. laid a wreath and placed a CUPE flag in honour of the veterans.

Many participants shared stories about family members who served and died during wartime, and those who continue to serve.

Sixteen veterans and four chiefs were also blanketed by the community for their service.