Although the past year has been uniquely challenging and difficult for people everywhere, the Métis Veterans Legacy Program (MVLP) has been working hard to maintain its operations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite not being able to honour our Second World War (WWII) Métis Veterans in person, we have done our best to show them our tremendous appreciation for their service.
Looking back at the accomplishments of last year, the MVLP fulfilled reconciliation to the greatest number of Veterans and their families since the start of the program in 2019. I am proud to share that 29 WWII Métis Veterans and 17 spouses have been presented with recognition payments as per the contribution agreement. As well, we have begun to distribute recognition payments to children of WWII Métis Veterans who have passed since January 1, 2016. More applicants are set to be approved in 2021.
The Program has been well received across the homeland with most citizens feeling a sense a restitution just by virtue of the program’s existence. Expressions of gratitude in the form of cards, letters, and donations have been sent in by many. More citizens have become aware of the program which has led to the discovery of more WWII Veterans. Honouring and preserving the legacy of our WWII Métis Veterans remains the priority of the MVLP.
I am excited to announce the Métis Veterans Commemoration Program, which is the third overall phase of the MVLP, is set to launch in the next coming months. We apologize for the delay as adjusting to the pandemic has forced the official launch date to be rescheduled. Commemoration initiatives will focus on promoting awareness and appreciation of the achievements, contributions, and sacrifices our Veterans made to protect our freedoms, including a WWII Métis Veterans commemoration site. It will support the efforts Métis communities have traditionally undertaken to honour our Veterans.
Funding will be available to Métis Veterans and their families, along with recognized Métis organizations and the wider Canadian public for projects that help Commemorate WWII Métis Veterans. A Review Committee will be established to oversee project proposals and make recommendations on which projects meet the mandate of the MVLP. We encourage those interested to visit www.metisveterans.ca to apply for funding and to review the program criteria.
I would like to personally extend my congratulations to Colonel (Ret’d) Nishka Jardine for their recent appointment as Veterans Ombudsperson for Canada. A former Senior Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, Colonel Jardine now takes on the responsibility of protecting the interests and the rights of the public and most importantly our Métis Veterans. Colonel Jardine brings their strength and determination to the position, and an open mind to the ongoing discussions on how to continue supporting Veterans. How fitting it is to be entrusted with this charge during the 75th Anniversary of the end of WWII.
The MVLP will maintain efforts to promoting our Métis Veterans during 2021. We continue to develop partnerships with key stakeholders to enhance commemoration initiatives, and recognition payments will be distributed to WWII Métis Veterans as they become known. Please keep in mind COVID-19 is still a threat to our safety. It is a priority that we continue to follow safety measures such as wearing a mask at indoor public places and practicing social distancing to keep each other safe. My thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost a loved one to the virus.
I offer my best wishes to Métis Veterans and Métis Citizens across the homeland for the new year. We keep the memory of our fallen heroes close to our minds and hearts and will continue to honour their legacy.
Our Heroes Today, Tomorrow, and Forever
Minister of Veterans Affairs
Métis National Council