The Alberta Branch is having preliminary discussions with the City of Edmonton regarding the expansion of the Field of Honour at the Northern Lights Cemetery with an initial focus of a new Columbarium and possibly a Scattering Garden.
NEWS: Nunavik August 27, 2018 - 9:10 am http://nunatsiaq.com
By Sarah Rogers
A Nunavik Inuit veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces will be honoured for his service with a new military grave marker next year. Eddy Weetaltuk was a veteran of the Korean War and served 15 years with the Armed Forces. He died at home in Nunavik in 2005 at age 73, and was buried in the cemetery outside his home community of Umiujaq, along the Hudson coast.
Weetaltuk’s gravesite is adorned with artificial flowers and a wooden cross, but at least one community member felt like something was missing—any mention of his military service. That’s until Alan Patterson, a retired Umiujaq police officer and former Armed Forces veteran, wrote to the Prime Minister’s office earlier this year to ask to have Weetaltuk honoured.
“I knew Eddy when I was a policeman here,” Patterson said. “Eddy went to war for our country, and that’s something that needs to be recognized. Every military member is entitled to a military grave marker.”Patterson’s request went unanswered for several weeks until he recently heard back from the Last Post Fund, which delivers Veterans Affairs Canada’s funeral and burial program.
The Fund has agreed to design and deliver a marker to Umiujaq, which will be installed at Weetaltuk’s grave site sometime in 2019. The granite slab will include Weetaltuk’s name, rank, military unit and the motto “lest we forget.” And it may be the first grave marker of its kind to be laid in an Inuit community; Weetaltuk is considered the first and one of the few Inuit to have served in the Canadian army.
“Inuit participation in the Forces isn’t that high, besides the [Canadian] Rangers, so he may be the only one,” Patterson said. “It just bothered me that as a veteran, he didn’t have anything there.” Weetaltuk was born on the land in 1932 and grew up with his family on the islands in James Bay—often in famine conditions.
At age 19, Weetaltuk went to Ottawa and used a fake social insurance card to join the first battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. He hid his Inuit identity for many years and went by the name Eddy Vital. Weetaltuk trained as a mortar operator and served with the mortar platoon in the Korean War. He was later stationed at Armed Forces bases in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec, before he left the forces in 1967.
Weetaluktuk also wrote his autobiography, with the help of a Quebec anthropologist, which was published shortly after his death. Edouard Pahud, the executive director of the Last Post Fund, said he’s grateful that the Prime Minister’s Office forwarded Patterson’s email. “It finally got to us,” Pahud said.
“We call this an unmarked grave, where a veteran has died and his grave isn’t properly marked. “Eddy’s grave will be more dignified with one of our tombstones.” Staff at the Last Post Fund will spend the next months gathering and verifying Weetaltuk’s military history. Weetaltuk’s grave marker is among the first—if not the only—one made for an Inuk veteran, Pahud said.
“There’s not a great enough awareness that we exist,” he said. “And that’s a challenge we’d like to address.”
National President, LCol Ray Mikkola as well as members from the Saskatchewan branch, Brad Hrycyna and Larry Wong attended the 54th Biannual ANAVETS convention held in Saskatoon from August 12th to 14th, 2018. National President, LCol Ray Mikkola’s presentation of the LPF aroused a lot of interest and when the session broke there was a sudden increase in traffic at our booth by the delegates.
Two members of the Last Post Fund, BC Branch, LCol (Ret.d) Romano Acconci and Maj (Ret.d) Gino Simeoni visited the Agira Canadian War Cemetery on Nov 10, 2017 and left a Canadian flag with LPF lapel pin on two burial sites: the youngest casualty, P.te J. Osborne, RCA, age 17, and the oldest casualty, P.te M. Alleman, The Loyal Edmonton Regiment, age 49. The Agira Canadian War Cemetery is located on a small hill in the Commune of Agira and the Province of Enna, in the heart of Sicily, approximately 70 kilometres from Catania. It contains the graves of 490 Canadians (13 members of the RCAF and 477 of the army), six of whom are unidentified. The complete article will be published in the next edition of The Bugler.
The Last Post Fund (LPF) BC Branch was invited to attend and to lay an official wreath at the Vancouver Vimy Day Commemoration at Mountain View Cemetery (MVC) on Sunday, April 8th, 2018. Officials in attendance included the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, Federal Minister of Justice, Members of Legislative Assembly and City of Vancouver councilors along with representatives of various veterans’ groups and regimental associations. Full article to be published in the next edition of The Bugler.
Her Honour The Honourable Janet Austin, OBC, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia has graciously accepted our invitation to be the Honourary Patron of the Last Post Fund in British Columbia. The 30th lieutenant-governor of British Columbia was sworn in on April 24, 2018. Prior to this appointment, she spent 15 years as Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Metro Vancouver, one of the province’s largest and most diversified non-profits. There she oversaw operations delivering services to tens of thousands of people annually at more than 40 locations.
Her Honour The Honourable Judy M. Foote, P.C., O.N.L. Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador has graciously accepted our invitation to be the Honourary Patron of the Last Post Fund in Newfoundland and Labrador. The 14th lieutenant-governor of Newfoundland and Labrador was appointed on March 20, 2018. Prior to entering politics, Ms. Foote worked as a journalist and communications director. In addition to mentoring cancer patients, she has volunteered her time over the years with several organizations, including the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the United Nations Children’s Fund.
The Veterans Affairs Canada Funeral and Burial Program ensures that eligible Veterans receive dignified funeral and burial services. The Program is administered by the Last Post Fund, a non-profit organization that has served Veterans since 1909. The Last Post Fund’s operations are based in three cities: Halifax, Montreal and Toronto. The National office is located in Montreal. The Last Post Fund is supported financially by Veterans Affairs Canada and by private donations.
The Last Post Fund has been helping Veterans since 1909. Arthur Douglas Hair was founder of the Last Post Fund in 1909. One of Hair's military brothers, James Daly, died without family or the means to have a proper funeral. Hair was "outraged by the callous disregard for the deceased man's past military service". Hair wrote a letter to The Montreal Gazette and went on a mission to ensure that the military dead "no matter what their lot in life, were worthy of more reverential treatment".