Woodstock First Nation ceremony recognizes Indigenous Veterans Day

 By Jim Dumville

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

As the cold November wind blew off the Wolastoq River, Tuesday morning, Nov .8, young and old gathered at the Woodstock First Nations war monument to pay tribute to Indigenous fighting men and women.

Woodstock First Nation officials, community members, children, elders, veterans and representatives of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 11 and ANAVETs Unit 95 participated in the ceremony recognizing National Indigenous Veterans Day. They honoured Woodstock First Nations residents whose names are displayed on the war monument.

Bonnie Polchies, a member of the WFN Veterans Committee, served as MC, welcoming those who braved the suddenly frigid temperature and strong winds to pay tribute to those who served as members of the Canadian and American forces through two world wars, Vietnam and peacetime.

To the sounds of piper Darlene Morton and under the command of Sgt. at Arms Bruce Hendry, the Colour Guard, featuring representatives from the Legion, ANAVETs and Woodstock First Nation, marched to the memorial and presented colours throughout the ceremony.

Woodstock First Nation Youth Drummers, under the guidance of Lisa Sappier, greeted those in attendance.

Chief Tim Paul thanked everyone for attending the ceremony and thanked those who served.

Elder Majorie Polchies offered a Maliseet prayer before the recorded singing of O Canada by Anatasha Lyons, who could not attend the event.

Following the Last Post and two-minute silence, Bonnie Polchies invited Tobique-Mactaquac MP Richard Bragdon, who previously laid a wreath on behalf of Canada, to offer comments.

WFN Veterans Committee member Shawn Sappier delivered the Act of Remembrance and read the names of Woodstock First Nations residents who served in uniform and whose names are carved into the monument.

Elder Carole Polchies and Lisa Sappier, who read the Commitment to Remember, participated in the solemn ceremony.

Bonnie Polchies read the names of the many groups who laid wreaths and crosses before the ceremony.

As has become a tradition in the now fourth annual Woodstock First Nation Remembrance service, Bonnie Polchies offered a brief biography of one of the names on the monument.

She shared the story of Second War War veteran Alfred Deveau but noted researchers found few records of his service following the war.

Polchies said the absence of war-service records for Indigenous veterans was not uncommon, noting the lack of information hindered their ability to collect pensions and other veteran services.

The Woodstock First Nation Veterans Committee hosted an event following the ceremony at the Eagles Nest.

  Jim Dumville is a  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the RIVER VALLEY SUN. The LJI program is federally funded.


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