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SASKATOON - Gilbert Parent, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Veteran Affairs, addressed the delegates attending the formation of the Saskatchewan Indian Veterans Association. Parent outlined the history story of veteran's affairs.
According to Parent, history shows that by the advent of the first World War the principle had been fully accepted in Canada that a war pensioner was entitled to compensation for any disability, treatment for his or her condition as required and training for a new occupation if warranted.
"There is a rather widespread impression today that this segment of our population is not very significant, numerically. The question being asked is, Why do we still need Veterans Affairs more than 30 year after the end of the second World War and more than half a century after the end of the First World War? The wars may be over, but the effects of war are not," he said.
"The total services available to our veterans and their dependents have been developing over the years and as 'a portfolio we probably have a closer link with our clientele than any other federal department," he continued.
"We are still closely involved with the widows and children of those who died or were maimed at Beaumont-Hamel, on the beaches of Dieppe, in the skies over Europe or on the convoy routes of the Atlantic," said Parent.
Veterans Affairs is justly proud of what it has accomplished on behalf of our veterans and it has always been an important principle for Canadians to recognize the debt owed to our country's ex-servicemen and women, and to compensate them for any disability or other form of suffering brought about as a result of their service in times of war.
"Let me assure you that this debt will continue to be paid as long as there remains one veteran or one dependent of a veteran who is in need of help," said Parent.
Veteran's Affairs is involved in an in-depth study of its care services for veterans. They emphasize that acute care of those disabled during military service will continue to be given top priority and assistance to older veterans will more and more be a major concern of the department.
Regarding the formation of Saskatchewan's Indian Veterans Association, "I would like to tell you that you are definitely on the right track by doing what you are doing here tonight, for if we all sat back and complained to ourselves about our own particular problems we would never get anywhere," said Parent.
It is only by grouping together like this and examining what has happened in the past and how, that we, as a unified force can instigate changes for the future. Then things will begin to happen," added Parent.
On behalf of the Indian veterans a ceremonial tomahawk was presented to Gilbert Parent as a token of appreciation. Mrs. Parent was presented with a genuine hand-woven basket.