A Métis sailor was presented with a special medal Tuesday, November 8 by the Commanding Officer of CFB Esquimalt as part of National Aboriginal Veterans Day.
Petty Officer 1st Class Steve Morrison received the Aboriginal Veterans Millennium Medal from Captain(N) J. Jeffrey Hutchinson. Morrison said receiving the medal was an honor, but receiving it represents so much more than himself.
“It’s huge because it’s not just me, it’s for my aunts and uncles who were residential school survivors who volunteered to serve in World War II. They were Métis and they had to hide who they were,” Morrison said. “It’s for all of us – all of our ancestors who went before and those who serve now.”
Morrison said receiving the medal on National Indigenous Veterans Day made it all the more meaningful, as the day has become symbolic of the changes and reconciliation that have occurred since it was first marked. times as a protest after Indigenous veterans were denied the opportunity to lay a wreath for their fallen comrades on Remembrance Day.
“It started as a protest in Winnipeg, and it has grown to this, where it is nationally recognized and slowly gaining international recognition across Turtle Island. This day is not organized by the military or the government, it is organized by us. I was this morning near the cenotaph – there were two of us. We have never done this in Victoria before. Next year I hope there will be a dozen of us, next year two or three dozen.
Morrison is currently the elected National Military Co-Chair of the Indigenous Defense Advisory Group, an entity that serves as the voice of Indigenous members of the Department of National Defense at command levels up to the Minister of National Defence.
Lieutenant-Colonel Catherine Askew, a training chaplain at CFB Esquimalt, said the medal is awarded to CAF members who have exemplified what it means to be both a member and an Indigenous person living this life with integrity, and is also awarded in memory of Aboriginal members who served in the past.
“Petty Officer 1st Class Morrison is an example of someone who believes in a better Canada, who lives a life of reconciliation, who believes that we are all connected – Indigenous peoples, settlers, new Canadians, visitors to our land – we We are all connected, and that is what this medal means today – that he walks these various paths with integrity and with hope.