My step-son, Matt Labrador, wrote this as a class assignment
when he was in Grade 8. He was already very aware of many of
the issues facing the Mi'kmaq, and used this essay as a way
to bring to his classmates' attention that the Mi'kmaq have
always helped to defend the land that they hold dear, even
when they were not honoured for their sacrifice by the
people they died for.
Matt went on to become a student and
a teacher of Mi'kmaw traditions and skills, and spent a
number of years sharing his knowledge alongside Muin'iskw at
Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site. He made
his journey in November 2013, and I cannot help but feel
that we missed out on a great deal of wisdom that would have
developed over the years.
Matt Labrador - Proud
They fought side by side with your people in
all the Wars. But they didn't have to go. Conscription didn't
apply to them, but they loved the country so. Our Mi'kmaq made
equally, as all men and women who went to war, the supreme
sacrifice for freedom, peace, and liberation for our country.
Now each year we are reminded that we can never forget. We
cannot forget the men and women who fought on the battlefields
for our freedom.
I ask that you also remember that my people
were also there. My great-grandfather, Louie Labrador, and his
three brothers fought in the war at Vimy Ridge. Only my
great-grandfather and one of his brothers came back alive.
Great-grandfather did get a couple of medals, but he lost his
brothers and a leg. My great-grandfather died of mental wounds
which he received in the war. When he was buried in Bridgewater,
they would not allow for a Mi'kmaq, a Sma'knis, to be buried
inside the boundaries of the fenced-off cemetery. Instead, my
great-grandfather was buried outside the fence with no honour.
As you remember those who fought in the
wars, I ask that you also remember our Aboriginal people, the
Sma'knis. They believed in no boundaries, and they were more
than willing to give up their lives for our Country.