New event to honour First Nations veterans

First Nations veterans will be honoured Wednesday, Nov. 11 with a never-before-seen celebration at the Somena Longhouse on Allenby Road.

First Nations veterans will be honoured Wednesday, Nov. 11 with a never-before-seen celebration at the Somena Longhouse on Allenby Road.

According to Marlene Rice, a spokesperson for the event,  “That day is special event. George Rice has carved the totem pole and Harold Joe has made the canoe. It all starts at 8 a.m. on Nov. 11 with a cultural ceremony first,  blessing the totem pole and then the warrior canoe that they have made. After that, at 11 a.m. there is going to be the Act of Remembrance at the Somena Longhouse.”

Later in the day, just after lunch, there will be a special remembrance of past First Nations veterans from far and near.

“About 1 o’clock, there will be photos of the veterans carried around by family members. We’re going to have a little booklet showing who is involved,” she said.

This will be a new event for the Cowichan area and its people.

“It will be the first time that First Nations veterans have ever been acknowledged,” Rice said.

Why are they doing it this year?

“It was that Harold got the idea from a Mainland ceremony. What’s happening is all the families are coming together with their family member that was in a war. They’ll be from all the different communities. We have some coming from the U.S., and from all over the Island, on the Mainland. We’re recognizing them for what they have done. It’s a great thing.”

The event is not just for First Nations people.

“After we’re finished blessing the totem pole and the canoe, after that ceremony, they can come from 11 a.m. to about 2 p.m.,” she said.

The totem pole and warrior canoe will get a place of honour at Vancouver Island University, too.

“They have agreed to house them after that day,” she said. “But the canoe is going to travel, too. Afterwards, if another community wants to do this next year, they can borrow the canoe.”