Evidence of meeting #94 for Veterans Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was nation.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

David Chartrand  Minister of Veteran Affairs, Métis National Council
Al Benoit  Chief of Staff, Manitoba Metis Federation
Alistair MacGregor  Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, NDP
Kevin Waugh  Saskatoon—Grasswood, CPC
Karen Ludwig  New Brunswick Southwest, Lib.
Shaun Chen  Scarborough North, Lib.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Neil Ellis

We'll end our testimony with questions from Ms. Ludwig.

September 20th, 2018 / 4:40 p.m.

Karen Ludwig New Brunswick Southwest, Lib.

Thank you. I'm also sharing my time with Shaun Chen.

I'm very pleased to be on this committee. I'm new to the committee, but I'm not new to veterans. My father was a veteran and my brother was a veteran, so I thank you for the work you're doing and I congratulate you for being elected over the last 15 years. That's a long time.

My line of questioning is a little bit different. I'm wondering what the opportunity has been to capture the stories and the history of all the people who have served who have not been recognized, but also to capture the narrative on that. You do a wonderful, amazing job, Mr. Chartrand, of sharing it, but I'm wondering if we could see that in books, as part of history.

4:40 p.m.

Minister of Veteran Affairs, Métis National Council

David Chartrand

It should be something that you recommend. Even with our young generation in the Métis nation, we keep on educating and showing them immediately part of our cultural ways, and we honour the veterans at every assembly we have. It's just essential. It's part of our cultural ways, and we try to teach them to our young people because today sometimes we forget and we look at them as old people. We try to tell our young generations. They don't realize that these were just boys themselves when they left. Now they are old, yes, and they are struggling and trying to survive. The young generation, in all walks of life, sometimes forgets to show honour and respect, and to stop and say thank you. I think that's something we need to look at more closely. We can do that with books. We can do that with teaching at the school.

Let's be honest with ourselves. National Veterans Day in Canada is used as a damn holiday for some reason. It's not honouring any veterans. People are going shopping and just taking it as time off. They used to close stores at 12:00; now big stores are open all day. There used to be time when things were shut down. You could only get milk and bread and stuff from a store because it was a time to show honour and respect to the veterans of this country and to those who gave their lives for our freedom.

Our system has changed and again they are being forgotten. Even on the actual holiday we have in this country, they're not being given that honour, so maybe we need to really begin educating our young generation about the importance, because a war will come, but it will be a different kind of war. It'll be a pushing of buttons. It's going to be a different war, but there will still be a lot of people who will die.

People need to know that we have to show great respect to all those who still.... When people join.... You know better than I, clearly, that when your father joined or your brother joined, you realized immediately that they were joining on the premise of knowing that they might be killed. They were joining something knowing that they might never come back.

Today people get comfortable, as though we know there's not going to be a big war, but there might be. You might be going to Afghanistan. You might not be coming home or you might be psychologically defeated.

Therefore I think we should start writing books. I think we should go back and change the way we think in this country. Why is our national day for recognizing our country's veterans not being treated as it should be? We have the Legions doing prayers—I attend lots of them throughout different parts of my province—and that's it. It's over. Everybody goes home, has their little cake and sandwich, and they are gone. Nobody reminds themselves that if it weren't for those people, we could be under the power of Germany today.

Don't fool yourselves. It could have happened. What are we doing as governments? We're not going the extra mile to stop it and to psychologically change our young generation. As I said about that person and his wife and his two kids praying at that graveyard and not knowing who they're praying for, they did it because their father did it. Their father took them when they were young and they still do it, and they're teaching their kids to do it.

If we could have that in our soul a little bit, that kind of honour in this country, maybe we'd show a different respect and care to our veterans, even those who have passed on. We can't forget that day or that event. We should promote changing the very mindset of our country and truly showing respect to the veterans.

4:45 p.m.

New Brunswick Southwest, Lib.

Karen Ludwig

Thank you.

4:45 p.m.

Shaun Chen Scarborough North, Lib.

Thank you, Mr. Chartrand and Mr. Benoit, for your testimony today.

You've clearly articulated the incredible sacrifices made by the Métis, their patriotism for Canada and their belief, as you said, that the new Canada they fought for would be there for them when they returned. History, sadly, has proven otherwise, and for that we as Canadians should all be very ashamed.

You said that the Métis are the only ones left without an apology and without a settlement, but as we also heard, we need to make the necessary supports and services available to Métis veterans who continue to suffer today.

I would like to ask how government can help to make those amends, help those veterans begin a new chapter, provide them with the supports they need, right the wrongs that were made. How can we support them through the government?

4:45 p.m.

Minister of Veteran Affairs, Métis National Council

David Chartrand

The best way to analyze the success of a recommendation and to see your recommendations followed through and met.... That is why we are pushing distinct issues among ourselves, first nations, and Inuit. There's a very clear reason we pushed that as indigenous governments. We can analyze and measure the success or investment of any of those three identities I just shared with you.

I can give you the names of the 5,000 veterans over there. I can establish, in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, how many of them were World War II veterans out of the 5,000. That could easily be done. Then you could measure what's happening to those who are still living today, and see if there are any services and if they face challenges.

Since there's a handful, it should be quite simple to establish where they are and understand what has happened to them. Then maybe we could learn a lesson so that it will never happen to the new veterans who are coming out of the different wars that are taking place in the eastern part of the world.

In retrospect, we need to do measurables. That's why we fought vigorously on this distinct-based issue, because when most Canadians heard that indigenous veterans got a settlement, they thought we got something. They think our veterans got treated that way. They think our veterans got their due in this country. They didn't, but the word “indigenous” implies that all of us got it. We didn't. The Métis nation has never received the proper promise that was given to them, so if we want to do it, let's do it right and let's measure it right. It's easy to measure if somebody takes the energy to do it. If you have a distinct base, you could measure it just like that, very quickly, but you have to make the department do that.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Neil Ellis

Thank you.

That ends our time for our testimony today. On behalf of the committee, I would like to thank both of you for coming here today. If there's any information you want to get back to us, if you send it to the clerk, the clerk would get it to all the committee.

May I have a motion to adjourn?

Mr. Bratina—

4:45 p.m.

Minister of Veteran Affairs, Métis National Council

David Chartrand

Before you adjourn, Mr. Chair, it's customary for my people to give gifts when we go to different meetings. I brought a gift for each of the parties because I respect the way this party is set up. You have yourself as the chair and you have an NDP member and a Conservative who are co-chairs. I brought each of you a gift. I didn't bring everyone a gift because I didn't know how big the panel was going to be that I was speaking to here.

I would like to leave that behind. I hope you wear it with great pride. It is a beaded poppy of the Métis artwork. I hope you wear it on Veterans Day and whenever you're doing a hearing on veterans across Canada. I tell you that when indigenous veterans see that, especially Métis, you will be treated with the utmost respect.

Again, I want to thank each of you for your questions. I hope I was able to clarify. If you have any questions, you can get hold of me anytime you want. My government is always willing, and the Métis nation is willing at any time, to give you more information. If you need some clarity on any small issue, just give us a call, and we will do our darndest to clarify it for you.

Thank you very much for allowing us to speak here today.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Neil Ellis

Thank you.

4:50 p.m.

Minister of Veteran Affairs, Métis National Council

David Chartrand

Oh, I also brought this. You will see that the back is Juno Beach, but what I wanted to say to you is apparently I wasn't allowed to give it to everybody because it's not translated into French, so I will leave it here if you want.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Neil Ellis

I think it has been circulated.

4:50 p.m.

Minister of Veteran Affairs, Métis National Council

David Chartrand

Excellent. They told me I wasn't allowed to give it away because it's not translated into French. If you want to look at it, these are some of the proud veterans. Most of them have passed on. I recognize most of them. I hope you look at this with a smile on your face when you see the smiles on their faces.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Neil Ellis

Thank you. Are you in here?

4:50 p.m.

Minister of Veteran Affairs, Métis National Council

David Chartrand

I'm right there—the big guy in white in the front.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Neil Ellis

Okay, I have to put my glasses on.

Thank you very much.

The meeting is adjourned.