Debates of the Senate  
1st Session, 38th Parliament,Volume 142, Issue 96.
Thursday, November 3, 2005  
  Veterans Affairs  
  Compensation to Aboriginal Veterans for Unequal Benefits Package

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I am addressing the issue of compensation for Canadians who have been treated unfairly by laws in the past.

On the one hand, there are the descendants of the Chinese Canadians who were subjected to the head tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act; on the other hand, there are Aboriginal veterans who received unfair compensation at the end of their military service. Today, I will direct my comments to the Aboriginal veterans.

Last week, a group of Aboriginal veterans flew to Belgium and France to pay their respects to their fallen comrades. While they were there, they conducted a spiritual ceremony to call back the spirits of their fallen comrades and take them back to Canada , to their home communities, along with their pipe carriers.

Attending some of the events were the Governor General, Michačlle Jean, as well as the Minister of Veterans Affairs, both of whom paid tribute to the war efforts of our Aboriginal veterans. It has been stated apparently by some of the veterans that this tribute was long overdue, that although they are grateful for it, it was overdue.

I had the pleasure of meeting some of these veterans in the Toronto airport last week. I met Howard Anderson, who is from the Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan -- which is where I am from. We are related. I met Mr. George Horace from the Thunderchild First Nation near North Battleford .

I asked another gentleman, who is also an Aboriginal veteran, if they had received compensation yet for the unfair benefits compared to non-Aboriginal veterans and his answer to me was, no, they had not.

Since 2005 is the Year of the Veteran, surely the government should recognize the sacrifices made by, and the heroism exhibited by, our Aboriginal veterans, by compensating them fairly and in a timelier manner -- that is to say, before any more of them reach the end of their lifespan and pass on. Why has the government not compensated Aboriginal veterans for the unequal and unfair benefits that they received?


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