The Métis National Council has launched the Métis Veterans Legacy Commemorative Program and wants to hear from communities and individuals seeking funding for local commemorative initiatives.
“As a nation, we will finally tell the stories of the sacrifices made by our veterans, by appropriately and respectfully recognizing the losses, pain and anguish war leaves behind,” David Chartrand, vice-president of the Métis National Council, said in the February announcement.
Up to $200,000 is available for creating monuments and space for commemoration, hosting ceremonies and educational initiatives.
The program’s objective is “to leave a strong, honest portrayal and a legacy to the thousands of Métis men and women who fought for Canada, but who were forgotten when they came home,” said Chartrand, adding that many did not return.
The program will also promote awareness of Métis veterans’ achievements and sacrifices among the broader Canadian public.
It is the third and final phase of a $30-million agreement signed in 2019 to honour Métis veterans of the Second World War, which included an apology from the Government of Canada for wrongs experienced on their return.
“We regret that our country has taken three-quarters of a century to address the concerns of Métis veterans who joined Canada’s call to arms to enter the Second World War,” Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay said in the apology. “Many experienced prejudice, poverty and a relative lack of pre-war education, vocational skills and work experiences. We apologize that the benefits offered to veterans after the war were not well designed to meet Métis veterans’ specific needs.”
Under the first phase of the agreement, dozens of living veterans have been identified to receive $20,000 compensation and recognition payments. In the second phase, payments are being made to spouses and common-law partners of deceased Second World War Métis veterans. If the spouse or common-law partner has died, surviving children of a Métis veteran who died after January 2016 are entitled to the payment.