Thousands of people traveled to “Back to Batoche” to memorialize and pay homage to their national heroes and encourage knowledge sharing between the generations. In his address at the opening ceremony on July18, MNC President Chartier highlighted the importance of this year’s gathering in view of major court decisions upholding Métis rights and the determination of the Métis Nation to fulfill the mission of Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont.
Back to Batoche 2014 also marked the culmination of years of effort by the Métis Nation to honour its military veterans , according to President Chartier in his address at the unveiling of the memorial monument on July 19.
“We have done our best to ensure permanent commemoration of the great contributions and sacrifices of our veterans with monuments and exhibitions in Canada and in Juno Beach, France, the site of the D-Day landing in 1944 that began the liberation of Europe from Nazi rule”, said President Chartier. “ I am very proud of our efforts in this regard so to witness the unveiling of a magnificent monument for our veterans on this sacred soil of the Métis Nation is a powerful and poignant experience for me . This monument speaks to the vision and determination of Lennerd Morin, a great Métis patriot, and to the superb work of the Gabriel Dumont Institute in fulfilling that vision. And, of course, the monument speaks to the great respect we have for those who fought for our rights here on the battlefield of Batoche and for the rights and freedoms of all Canadians in global conflicts. While their numbers may be dwindling, this monument will enshrine the memory of their great deeds forever.”
From Gabriel Dumont Institute, the Host of the Unveiling.
The Métis have always defended their right to be free people, les gens libre, and the Otipaymishoowuk – “ the people who own themselves.” This value, a gift from our ancestors, has been demonstrated in our early history and by thousands of Métis who have served in Canada’s Armed Forces. The Métis have served alongside other Canadian servicemen and servicewomen in the South African War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and in each of the efforts since then to defend our country and contribute to international peace and security.
The Métis Veterans Memorial Monument at the site is a national project that honours Métis servicemen and servicewomen from across Canada. The monument expresses a long-held dream of the Métis to honour and commemorate the contributions of over 7,000 Métis veterans who have valiantly served our nation and defended our land and freedom. The site was officially designated in July 2010 at a ceremony attended by the Honourable John Duncan, the former Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
The Gabriel Dumont Institute is leading the fundraising effort for the monument. Over two-thirds of the cost of the monument has been realized by the July 19, 2014 unveiling through contributions from the Institutes, Veteran Affairs Canada, the Clarence Campeau Development Fund, the Saskatchewan Community initiatives Fund, and donations from individuals, businesses, and service organizations. All of these efforts are greatly appreciated.
The Métis Veterans Memorial Monument is a fitting tribute to our veterans and will remind us of the sacrifices they made so we can enjoy our freedom and spend time with family and friends, the Métis way, at Batoche.
It is with heartfelt sincerity that we honour our Métis veterans who bravely served our country to preserve our freedom. Their service, along with that of other veterans, is a contribution for which all Canadians can be grateful and proud.
At the same time as we acknowledge and thank our veterans for their service and sacrifice, we are grateful to those who have helped make this tribute a reality through the many ontributions made, including funding, in-kind contributions, and donations.
In conjunction with the festival, 80 youth known as “Honour Runners” run 100 km from Saskatoon to Batoche in tribute to Métis Veterans. (see Starphoenix news: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/touch/story.html?id=10043100)