I Love This Land
You were and always shall be my brother
We were all the same color wrapped in the flag of this nation
My blood flowed as freely as yours, mixed in the field’s one could not be distinguished from the other
Yet when we came home, when the nation’s colors were removed
Difference became apparent, not between you and me, God willing never
But in the eyes of those for whom we laid down our lives.
Oh, we still stood shoulder to shoulder in parades, but the government thought that your life was more valuable than mine
So you were given land property, while I waited and waited,
I know what you were given was not enough for what we endured
Still it was much more than I.
I am not envious of you brother, I believe you deserve even more than you received
But it hurt me very badly, I am not ashamed to say I cried and why not
I bled, I died, I killed, why does my country think I am unworthy
The enemy I fought could never be as cruel as the people I came back to embrace.
I gave so much, lived through so much and then you,
you who I would give all for, you pushed me aside as if I was inconsequential
I feel as if I have been spit upon by one I honored
Do I feel good having to ask you for what should have been given long ago, no?
In fact, I am a little ashamed to ask for justice in this
For I never went to war for money, for glory, for reward, I went because it was the right thing to do and God
forgive me, I would go again.
This may seem an old wound to you but it is a wound that never heals
For it is a wound to my people’s heart and soul and insult to our pride
And we deserve so much better, especially from you.
Bruce Mack submitted the above poem, written by Chief R. Stacey, to the Tribune for our Remembrance Day edition.
“I think it is very fitting that we understand our picture of the war and veterans is incomplete,” he says.
He is right.
According to the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, one third of First Nations people aged 18 to 45 enlisted in the First World War. While on the front, Indigenous Canadians were, mostly, treated the same as their non-Indigenous counterparts, many even having to learn English on the battlefield.
When they got home, that changed.
While federal policies, according to the Canadian War Museum, extended post-war benefits to non-Aboriginals, such as access to land and low interest rate loans, those same benefits did not reach the Indigenous Canadians who fought and died for our country.
Still, in the Second World War, at least 3,000 First Nation members enlisted, not including many Inuit and Metis who also joined the fight.
This Remembrance Day it’s important that we recognize all of our veterans.
It’s important to remember that those who fought and died for our country had to struggle when they came home to even be considered as equal to their fellow soldiers.
The Williams Lake Tribune