He wanted to bring a point up. He said he noticed on my documentation that I identified as being from one of the indigenous groups. I said I was. He said I needed to be aware that to access benefits, now that I was going to be out of the service, there might be interdepartmental wars. Veterans Affairs would say, “He's status Indian, so that's your responsibility.” Then Indian Affairs would come back and say, “No, because he's a veteran that's your responsibility.”
I don't know what impact that's had on me. I know I have struggled since I left the service. It's hard going back to school, which was my intention. I had actually started university, but I was getting memory triggers from some of the material presented in classes, namely English. It was quite interesting. Who would have thought that a math question would invoke a trigger, and it did in one instance for me, so.... That's where I'm at.
There's another issue, since I got on board. I was talking with an elder a few weeks ago at a powwow, and he mentioned that there are actually aboriginal veterans living on the street in Edmonton. I did some checking, and there's an organization in Edmonton, Boyle Street, that deals mainly with the homeless, and I did point out that there are in fact aboriginal veterans there. I think, with the historical context of colonialism and where there's a high proportion of indigenous peoples in the bigger cities, that rings true.
I did some further checking, and I talked to the Royal Canadian Legion. They indicated that there were some aboriginal veterans who had approached the office trying to access benefits, and they were able to help them out to the extent they could. That's something I want to pursue further when I get back to Edmonton.
The issue is that on one level, we have an indigenous person, and then we have a person who served in the military. I can speak only for myself, but there's a bit of a matter of pride about coming forward and asking for help and stuff like that.
It's been very interesting since I assumed the position of presidency, so to speak. I'm definitely learning more and more. We are marginalized. We're a small demographic, and there's lots to find out there.
A week and a half ago I was up at Gift Lake for a job fair to promote the bold eagle program, and earlier this year we buried a World War II veteran out in Driftpile. I went to his grave, and there's still no marker on it. I don't know if it's a matter of money issues with the band or the family, but I think we'll be able to get Veterans Affairs or the Legion to help out with a suitable grave marker so people will know that, yes, this guy served in the army. Actually, from the stories I've been told, he landed in Normandy on D-Day.
I'm open to questions.