Bead a Poppy
Indigenous Veterans and the Canadian Government
Throughout World War I, World War II, and the Korean War, it is estimated that between 7000-12000 declared and undeclared indigenous people served in the Canadian forces. Unfortunately, the relationship between the Canadian government and servicemen and women was abysmal. Veterans were denied the same recompense as their non-indigenous counterparts under the War Veterans Allowance Act. Land was illegally taken from treatied territory and given to non-indigenous growers of crops to support the troops. That land was not returned.
Forced conscription of treatied First Nation peoples, though illegal, was enforced from 1942 through 1944, until the courts upheld the rights of First Nations peoples abstaining from fighting in the Queen’s military, as provided for in treaty negotiation. Unfortunately, many who voluntarily left to fight in WWII lost Status upon returning and were no longer allowed to live on their Nation’s land with their own families. This was due to a clause in the Indian Act that prevented First Nations people from being absent from their reserves for longer than three years; in some cases this was also due to voluntary surrender of Status to be able to enlist, and sometimes with the promise of status recovery upon return.
Many Métis people were afraid to identify for fear of losing their children, and so declared themselves French or European when enlisting. Many, many other important inequalities lasted well beyond the 1960s allowance of Indigenous veterans accessing Veterans Services and of entrance into the Legion. Indigenous Veterans were not allowed to lay wreaths at the National Monument until 1995.
In this 3 hour class you will learn the basics of beading, and create you own beaded poppy broach to wear in honour of Indigenous Veterans.
Instructor: Sheena Gering
Sheena is a Métis artist from Territory 6, now living as a guest on unceeded Lkwungen Territory. She came to beadwork through the video preservation of Cumberland House’s Isabelle Impey and the Métis Nation of Greater Victoria elder Jo-Ina Young. Sheena is developing and sharing handwork to preserve and support Métis culture in Victoria and bring awareness to present and historical unjust treatment of Indigenous peoples. She/Her