Round-table session will create wall of honour at Glooscap centre
MILLBROOK – Tightly gripping an eagle feather as it made its way around a talking circle, Louie Morris spoke proudly of his time in the U.S. military serving in Vietnam.
The Indian Brook Mi'kmaq veteran was in Millbrook on Friday participating in the first roundtable session to plan a Mi’kmaq Veterans Wall of Honour at the Glooscap Heritage Centre.
“I’ve been going through a phase for some time lately, thinking I was thrown away – used and abused and thrown away,” Morris said, his voice vibrating with emotion. “Comrades we are not throw-aways.”
The former army staff sergeant and educator is passionate about having the sacrifices of his people formally recognized with a memorial that tells their unique story.
Millbrook veteran Bennett Martin was also included in the round-table session, which brought together about 20 people representing nine of the province’s 13 First Nations communities, along with the RCMP.
“I’m very interested in this project,” said Martin.
“I did some research and I have found there are many, many veterans who have died and have not been recognized.”
He pointed to a picture frame containing photos of five uniform-clad soldiers, his great-grandfather and three uncles, lost during the First and Second World War, along with an image of himself taken when he served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marines.
“It’s not only for them that I am here, but there are so many that just disappeared,” said the veteran. “There was no honour bestowed upon them.”
The centre is aiming to develop a museum quality memorial to honour Mi’kmaq veterans and RCMP members with feedback provided during the roundtable session.
“When we do tours here in the centre, we always talk about our veterans and the contributions they have made but it is something that is missing in our centre,” said Gordon Pictou, centre program director.
“You didn’t just fight warfare, you fought racism and discrimination.”
The centre has a goal to make the memorial as inclusive and comprehensive as possible and has asked each Mi’kmaq community to research the names of their veterans so no one is overlooked.
The exhibit will also include photographs, medals, memorabilia, uniforms and any other artifacts families would like preserved in a museum setting.
The next round-table session will be held on May 28, with a goal to complete the project in time for its official opening on Remembrance Day this year.
“We still have a lot that we can give,” said Martin, who plans to participate in the next three sessions to see the project to completion. “This is one of the ways that we can give back.”