FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 2, 2020 – Sudbury, ON
WWII Métis Veteran William Hurteau received thanks from the Métis Nation, a $20,000 Recognition Payment and an apology from Canada in Sudbury, Ontario. The Recognition Payment is part of the Métis Veterans Legacy Program established in partnership with the Trudeau government to commemorate forgotten Métis soldiers. Veteran Hurteau is the 23rd WWII Métis Veteran to receive a Recognition Payment as part of the Legacy Program.
Métis Nation Minister responsible for Veterans David Chartrand was prevented from presenting the Recognition Payment in person due to the global wide practice of COVID-19 social distancing. However, Brian Black, President of the Ontario Métis Veterans Council attended the small presentation ceremony on behalf of the Minister, held at the assisted-living facility where Veteran Hurteau resides.
‘It is a true privilege to honour Métis Veteran William Knight and to acknowledge his service to all Canadians. Our debt to Veterans like William will never end. Our Heroes today, tomorrow and forever.’ stated Minister Chartrand.
On September 10, 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued an apology for the injustices Métis Veterans faced upon returning home to Canada. The Métis Nation and Prime Minister Trudeau committed to Recognition Payments being issued to every surviving WWII Métis Veteran to further reconciliation and acknowledge the negligent treatment by Canada that affected the Métis Community.
WWII Métis Veteran William Hurteau – Medals and Decorations
- 1939-1945 Star – France and Germany Star, Defence Medal – CVSM with Clasp (Canadian Volunteer Service Medal)
- War Medal – 1939-1945
- Holland Medal from the people of Holland.
For more information contact:
Métis National Council
Biography of WWII Métis Veteran William Hurteau:
William Hurteau was born on August 6, 1925. His father was John Hurteau and his mother was Elizabeth Hurteau (nee: Godin). “Bill” Hurteau joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps on April 2, 1942, in Petawawa, Ontario. He was discharged on December 21, 1945. He is a Royal Canadian Legion Member with over 41 years of continuous service.
Hurteau was sent to England during World War II, sailing out of Halifax on the ship Louis Pasteur, in December 1943. The ship took 7 days to cross the Atlantic because to avoid the German submarines the ship has to zigzag across the ocean. The soldiers slept in hammocks. He turned 17 years of age. He had lied about his age so that he could join the army. His parents did not know that he had joined the active force. They also did not know that he had sailed to the war zone until he wrote to them from England. As he trained in England the Germans were bombing across the land. London was especially hard hit. This was the “Battle of Britain”.
Bill left Portsmouth England with the 21st Army Group. He sailed with an armada of ships on June 6, 1944, that had sailed for the invasion of D-Day on the coast of Normandy, France. His ship landed on the beach; code named “JUNO” on the east coast of Normandy on “D Day plus 1 – June 7, 1944. It was still considered the D-Day landing because there was such a large armada of ships that they could not all land on the one day. The ship that he was on did not get to land until the next dawn. This large flotilla of ships, thousands, brought men and supplies for the invasion. No one slept that night. The German artillery were firing their big guns at the ships on the seas and those same Allied ships were firing their own big guns and as well the allied aircraft were also firing their guns and bombs were exploding. The noise was terrifying to all who were there.
Many Canadian and allied soldiers who disembarked from their landing craft were drowned because the water was too deep in the area where their landing craft had disembarked them. The tides would make a difference and the men were loaded down with all their gear.
Bill with his medical comrades, picked up and treated the wounded as the Canadians fought through Normandy, France, Belgium Holland, and Germany. He spent his 17th birthday in England during the Battle of Britain and his 18th birthday somewhere on the battlefields of France.
When the war in Europe ended with the surrender of German forces on May 7, 1945, Bill volunteered to go to the Pacific as a medic first responder. There the war with the Japanese was being fought. He returned from Europe on His Majesty’s Ship the Queen Mary. The ship landed in New York Harbour and then he travelled by train to Ottawa, Ontario. He was met by his father and some of his sisters. It was a tearful and joyful reunion. He had been away at war for 2 years and 8 months. The war in the Pacific ended before he was deployed over there.
Bill at a very tender age, had seen the human toll of war. The sights he had seen affected him greatly, today they call it post-traumatic stress syndrome. They had no treatment when the Soldiers returned home from World War II.
Bill met his wife (deceased August 2015), while he was in Ottawa in 1945. They married and moved to Sudbury where he had been hired by the International Nickel Company, (INCO). He worked there for 35 years. They have two children, David Hurteau, who lives in Winnipeg and Patricia Jean (nee: Hurteau). He has 4 Grandchildren, 8 Great-Grandchildren and 3 Great, Great Grandchildren.
The MNC represents the Métis Nation in Canada at the national and international levels. The Métis Nation’s homeland includes the 3 Prairie Provinces and extends into the contiguous parts of British Columbia, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and the United States. There are approximately 400,000 Métis Nation citizens in Canada, roughly a quarter of all Aboriginal peoples in the country.
During the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War, Métis from across the Métis Nation enlisted in the Canadian military in large numbers. Many Métis who volunteered during the First and Second World Wars were descendants of Métis who fought for Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont in 1885. Traditional Métis skills such as trapping, hunting, scouting and guiding were in high demand by the military and made the Métis very successful soldiers.
Following the Second World War, Métis Veterans were often unable to obtain their veterans’ benefits after their military service. Many Métis Veterans were turned away by Veteran Affairs Canada and did not receive the same supports, resources or benefits promised to them that were routinely given to other non-Métis Veterans. As the Veterans aged and their immense contributions to Canada’s war effort continued to be ignored by Canada, the Métis Nation launched a campaign to right the wrongs of the past and ensure that our Métis heroes were accorded the honor and compensation they so justly deserved.
Honoring WWII Veterans
It took three-quarters of a century to address the concerns of Métis Veterans who had joined Canada’s call to arms to enter the Second World War, and more recently 20 years of advocacy and negotiations of MNC’s Vice-President David Chartrand, Minister responsible for Veterans.
In 2019, Federal Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAuley issued Canada’s apology that the benefits offered to Canada’s Veterans did not meet the needs of Métis Veterans (click here). At the same time, Canada and the Métis National Council concluded a $30-million Agreement to honour Métis Veterans of the Second World War including the payment of compensation. The Agreement is known as the Métis Veterans Legacy Program.
This website is part of our on-going efforts to keep citizens throughout the Métis Nation Homeland — and beyond — informed on developments and initiatives at the national and international level concerning Métis Nation Veterans. It is our goal to honour our Veterans by being the leading source of information regarding Veterans affairs, and to provide Canadians with a better understanding of the contributions and sacrifices made by Métis Nation Veterans in service to their country and their people.
Components of this website are under construction. Please visit us again soon for more updates.
For more information on the Métis Veterans Legacy Program please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for more info.
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