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ALOY: Ottawa 11 Nov visit – “awe-inspiring”

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ALOY Remembers

Article written by s26573, OCdt Zoretich and se8317, Victoria Pierrot.

Photographic debut by ALOY OCdt Victoria Pierrot, from New Lowell, ON

This past Remembrance Day, the students from the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year (ALOY), along with their Elder, Bernard Nelson, participated in a two ceremonies of Remembrance in Ottawa. ALOY was also accompanied by their 3rd and 4th year staff in addition to WO Highfield and Sgt Thoman. ALOY visited two historic monuments and had the chance to talk to serving military members and veterans who were also visiting the city.

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Aboriginal Ceremony of Remembrance

OCdts share the experience

Canadian Aboriginal Veterans and Serving Members Association (CAV)

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

More ALOY photos

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Aboriginal Ceremony of Remembrance

To start the day, the group took part in a small ceremony to honour the Aboriginal Veterans at the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument, located across the street from the Lord Elgin Hotel. Following the ceremony, ALOY staff and students offered tobacco and prayers to those in their thoughts. To take care of their own spirit and health, they smudged with the ceremony’s elder present. The event was a celebration of the all that the Aboriginal veterans accomplished. A group of women sang and played either a hand drum or shaker to invigorate everyone’s spirit.

This small gathering started 15 years ago with only a couple members present. With each passing year the ceremony has more and more people attending, often hearing of it by word of mouth. It was an excellent ceremony. ALOY is very grateful to be able to participate in it and to honour all the Aboriginal Veterans.

A couple OCdts decided to share their experience:

“Seeing and being surrounded by native people the monument was awe-inspiring and to be acknowledged as a Niitsitapii (Blackfoot) in Ottawa.”

sE8301 Zachariah White Elk, Siksika, AB

“It was an honour to go to the Aboriginal monument in Ottawa, and to be part of something that means so much to the Aboriginal Veterans. This is definitely something I would love to be a part of again in the future” -sE8298 Jordan Tutcho-Ruben, Inuvik, NWT

National Ceremony of Remembrance

ALOY also had the chance to spectate the ceremony at the National War Memorial. Being surrounded in a crowd of over 35,000 spectators was overwhelming and yet the pride for Canada’s Veterans could be felt throughout.

OCdt sE8318 Michael Stranks, Owen Sound, ON recounted the ceremony best:

“As someone in the armed forces, it was a new experience being surrounded by so many civilians at this ceremony in which we all come together to remember. You could feel the respect everyone has for the Canadian Forces and their honour for veterans. I was proud to be surrounded by so many Canadians who love their military and will always remember the sacrifices that have been made.”

Canadian Aboriginal Veterans and Serving Members Association (CAV)

The National President of the Canadian Aboriginal Veterans and Serving Members Association (CAV), Richard Blackwolf, generously invited ALOY to lunch after the Ceremonies of Remembrance. The CAV National Representative – Ottawa, Joseph Burke and his wife, Yvonne Burke, was also in attendance and shared many stories of their past and present experiences. The connection made today between the two Aboriginal groups will carry on for years to come.

“It was an honor to break bread with these distinguished figures, and a pleasure to hear their stories. The meal itself was excellent as well!”

– s26712, Julie Cho, DCFL ALOY

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Following the lunch with CAV, ALOY paid their respects to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by laying down their poppies. It was a very emotional experience for the ALOY members, many of which have never visited the National War Memorial or our Nation’s Capitol.

“I met a WWII veteran and when I spoke to him, he spoke of memories during his time overseas. When he saw the leaders and future leaders today, he was proud. It was one of those moments you’d never forget; the future and past was, in a way, connected.”

-se8316, Leah Ahenakew, Northern Saskatchewan

“We took many group photos today and I felt like a celebrity; there were random people asking for our photos. We were even honored today when a group asked if they could play an honor song for us. It was a really great experience for us all to participate in”

– se8300, Jonathan Pashe, Interlake Manitoba

For most ALOY OCdts, it was their first Remembrance Day in uniform and is foreseeably not the last for some members. Having the amazing opportunity to attend two ceremonies in the heart of Canada, helped to bring home the true meaning of what it means to be a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.

More ALOY photos from 11 Nov HERE