Sponsored by the Last Post Fund
Indigenous participation in Canada’s military efforts over the years has been impressive—particularly considering the challenges many overcame to serve in uniform, whether it was learning a new language, adapting to cultural differences or undertaking the lengthy travel from remote communities just to enlist.
The Last Post Fund: In Service to Veterans Since 1909
Since its inception in 1909, the Last Post Fund’s (LPF) mission has been to ensure that no Veteran is denied a dignified funeral and burial, as well as a military gravestone, due to insufficient funds at the time of death. In keeping with the spirit of the ongoing Reconciliation process, the LPF is eager to help commemorate and honour Indigenous Veterans through the IVI, launched in March 2019.
The IVI offers two services:
- Placement of a military marker for Veterans who have been buried for more than five years with no existing tombstone in place.
- Inscription of the Indigenous Veteran’s traditional Indigenous name on existing grave markers previously placed by the Last Post Fund.
IVI: A Focus on Serving Indigenous Veterans
In the last three years, the initiative supported the inscription of traditional names in six Indigenous languages: Algonquin, Blackfoot, Cree, Interior Salishan, Inuktitut and Saulteaux. Furthermore, 350+ Indigenous Veterans’ unmarked graves have been found, with 200+ receiving military grave markers to date.
Additionally, in the hopes of offering families a culturally-relevant service, the IVI collaborated with Cree artist Jason Carter on the creation of seven symbols for headstone inscriptions, to be used in perpetuity. Carter based the designs on the Seven Sacred Teaching Symbols. These symbols are available for families to choose from for the grave markers. To date, the most popular symbols have been the eagle, wolf and feather.
As the initiative continues, we sincerely hope that all Canadians will become more aware of the sacrifices Indigenous Veterans have made for Canada. All Canadians should be proud and aware of the strong military traditions of Indigenous Veterans. Lest We Forget.
Reach Out for More Information
If you are interested in getting involved in searching for unmarked graves of Veterans in your community, or if you or a family member are a Veteran and would like more information, you are invited to contact the Last Post Fund by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 1-800-465-7113.