Prime Minister Stephen Harper today participated in a ceremony at Rideau Hall honouring the major contributions of Aboriginal peoples during the War of 1812. During the ceremony, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, presented commemorative War of 1812 banners and medals to representatives of 48 First Nations and Métis communities with a heritage linked to the war of 1812. Also present were John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, and General Walter Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff.
“During the War of 1812, First Nations and Métis warriors stood shoulder-to-shoulder with English and French-speaking militias and British military forces to defend our country against American invaders,” said the Prime Minister. “The commemorative medals and banners being presented today recognize the vital contributions and enormous sacrifice made by our First Nations and Métis peoples during the War of 1812. Without their courage and honour, Canada would not have been able to successfully defend itself and we would not have the peaceful and prosperous country our citizens enjoy today.”
During the War, more than 10,000 First Nations and Métis warriors from the Great Lakes region and the St. Lawrence Valley participated in nearly every major battle, including Fort Mackinac, Detroit, the battles of Fort George, Stoney Creek and Beaver Dams, Crysler’s Farm and Lundy’s Lane. According to several British commanders, these important battles were won in large part because of the participation of their Aboriginal allies.
At the end of the War of 1812, Aboriginal allies who fought alongside British and Canadian forces received military flags and medals. This long-standing tradition is being continued today with the presentation of the Canadian Forces War of 1812 Commemorative Banner and the Commemorative War of 1812 Medal for Aboriginal Canadians.
The Government of Canada and the Canadian Heraldic Authority collaborated on the design of the banner and the medal.Today’s ceremony is one of many events being held across the country this year to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, an important milestone in the lead-up to the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation in 2017.