Previous Article Next Article FNPI Search Home Previous Year Next Year Year List

Canadian Indian Veterans Outraged

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      DECEMBER 1981      v11 n11 p04  
Walter Dieter
Walter Dieter, President
National Indian
Veterans Association

"Prime Minister Trudeau has discarded everything that Indian veterans fought for in the World Wars," said the president of the National Indian Veterans Association.

Walter Deiter, who represents 7,000 Indian war veterans, made the remark over Trudeau's recent attempt to delete Treaty and Aboriginal rights within the constitution.

"Our men had no vote and therefore were not coerced to fight in the wars, but they believed that if they fought for the Union Jack, they would be protecting their Treaty rights. In doing so, many lost lives. Now, Trudeau is taking it away with the stroke of a pen," added Deiter.

Canadian Indian veterans were not recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs during the war years and consequently never received any compensation for their contributions, unlike their non-Indian counterparts. Today many live in squalor conditions on Indian reserves, hauling their own water. They receive no other benefits besides their old age pensions.

Deiter also stated that prior to 1960, when the Treaty Indians were given the privilege to vote, they were considered "aliens".

"Many of our fellows went to war to demonstrate their allegiance to the Crown that made Treaties with the Indian people," he said.

The National Indian Veterans Association aims at improving the social conditions of Treaty Indian veterans.

Walter Deiter, who hails from the Peepeekesis Indian Reserve in Saskatchewan, is a recipient of the Officer of the Order of Canada for his contribution towards Canadian Indians.