Last month, WWII Métis Veteran Jean Leander Camirand Sr. Became the 29th veteran to receive thanks and recognition of his service from the Canadian government.
Veteran Camirand Sr, in recognition of his service in WWII, received a Recognition Payment of $20,000, along with a hand-crafted traditional Métis beaded poppy broach and ceremonial sash. The Recognition Payment is part of the Métis Veterans Legacy Program established in partnership with the Trudeau government to commemorate forgotten Métis soldiers.
Camirand was visibly touched during the service. “I can't believe that I deserve all this,” he said. He and his wife Eloise plan to donate part of the funds back to the Métis Nation.
“As Minister responsible for Veterans for the Métis National Council, I have stood side by side with our WWII Métis Veterans for the past two decades to seek justice,” states Minister David Chartrand, of the Manitoba Metis Federation. “I thank Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister MacAulay for keeping Canada’s promise to honour the sacrifices and contributions of our WWII Métis Veterans. While our Veterans have waited three-quarters of a century to take their rightful place as heroes of Canada, their wishes and our promise of the legacy we have created together will last into perpetuity. Our heroes today, tomorrow and forever.”
The Fort Frances Sunset Country Métis Community Council President Brady Hupet represented Minister Chartrand and present the Recognition Payment along with a hand-crafted traditional Métis beaded broach and the Nation’s ceremonial Métis Sash, to Veteran Camirand.
“I give thanks to the Métis National Council and Minister Chartrand. As President of the Sunset Country Métis Community, it is an honour to personally bestow these awards to Jean Leander Camirand for his service. Jean is a proud Métis Veteran war hero in our community, whom I am proud to know personally.”
Veteran Jean Leander Camirand Sr. was born June 1, 1925. He married Eloise Saunders on September 12, 1947, and recently celebrated 73 years of marriage this year. Together they raised five children and have 13 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and soon, they will have their first great great grandchild. He retired in 1986, took up golfing with his wife and spent their winters travelling. Veteran Camirand Sr. and his wife volunteered for the Hospital Auxiliary and Meals on Wheels. He received a Certificate of Recognition for his service during WWII from Canada.
According to the Métis National Council, veterans of Métis heritage were often turned away by Veterans Affairs or were unable to fully access veteran's benefits after their military service. Although their traditional survival skills were highly valuable to the military, Veterans benefits offered after discharge left many Métis at a disadvantage, according to the official government apology.
On September 10, 2019, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veteran Affairs Canada, issued an apology to the WWII Métis Veterans on Canada’s behalf.
“Looking back, it is clear that the pre and post Second World War experiences some Métis Veterans faced may have negatively affected their successful re-establishment in civilian life following the Second World War. Many experienced prejudice, poverty and a relative lack of pre-war education, vocational skills and work experience,” the apology states. “On behalf of all Canadians, we thank the Métis Veterans who served our country valiantly during the Second World War. They deserve our respect and we say thank you to them, their families and the Métis Nation for the sacrifices that they made.