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


Lawrence Weenie: SL4638

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      OCTOBER 1989      p06  
My name is Chief Lawrence Weenie and I had the opportunity of serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. We've had the opportunity to read of the veterans experiences while overseas in battle. My primary concern is, did they receive their full benefits that they were entitled to? Maybe that is a question that could be addressed to the governments that are responsible for the veterans, the D.V.A., the V.L.A., the Pension Commission. My belief is that there is a lot of work to be done yet in that area. They had grants of $2320 when they came back from the Second World War and some of them didn't receive those full benefits. Indian Affairs was administering the program and maybe one of the biggest mistakes was when they handed over the program to the Indian Affairs to administer for the for the veterans. We're still having programs with INAC. There are a lot of questions that yet have to be addressed, issues to be brought forward to the various levels of government.

At this stage of the game, we're losing these veterans slowly. In another few years there will be hardly anybody left to try and settle the programs that they were entitled to, whether it be money, land, grants, pensions, pensionable conditions that they are eligible for and are fighting for right up to this date.

I served six years in the Canadian Army myself, in the Royal Canadian Engineers, and I was in a parachute unit. I got hurt in one of those training manoeuvers. The only thing I am eligible for is a pensionable conditions which I am presently working on.

I seem to find the Canada Pension Commission people a very tight group of government bureaucrats. Of course you need substantial evidence in order to get a claim rolling. Initially, I have been successful in getting my foot in the door with the Pension Commission. From there a person just has to keep pressing. Once they allow you a pension, that is a starting point, then you can continue asking for reexaminations if your condition is worsening and they're the people that you can address your problems to.

But as for the Second World War veterans and up to Korea in July of '53, they were the people that were eligible for what we call the War Veterans Allowance, and that $2320 which was a form of a grant to get them started in farming or whatever they chose.

Now, if you compare that with what the white veteran got there is quite a difference. Those are, I believe, some of the issues that will have to be brought forward either by way of additional land or some of the veterans are willing to settle for a cash settlement. I don' know if that is the way to go, but that is their wish. By the time the bureaucrat system works, by the time they approve something, it might be twenty years down the road. That quarter section of land that they got was reserve land, it wasn't any additional land given to them, it was part of the reserve land. I believe some of them have even lost that quarter section of land that was allotted them, which was reserve land in the first place.

These are some of the issues that the politicians will have to follow up on. Try and get additional land for the veterans and hopefully the government will understand. They are not problems, they're actually a right of the veteran to get our politicians to investigate these things further. We appreciate our veterans, the white people appreciate their veterans and we do also. They did their service for their country, Canada, and I believe the government owes our veterans the right to their hearings and what they are requesting.