On the occasion of National Aboriginal Veterans Day November 8th, the Last Post Fund is pleased to unveil its new banner for the Indigenous Veterans Initiative. Warrant Officer Moogly Tetrault-Hamel, pictured on the banner, is Indigenous Advisor to the Chaplain General since August, 2016.
The inaugural National Aboriginal Veterans Day took place on November 8, 1993 in Ottawa and is now celebrated all across Canada. We stand together in honouring the sacrifices of Indigenous Veterans on this special Memorial Day.
Last Post Fund launched its Indigenous Veterans Initiative earlier this year, with an official press release announcing the new initiative sent out June 19, 2019. In order to further promote the initiative, a new pop-up banner was designed by National Office staff. This banner is available to members from branches across Canada wishing to promote the Indigenous Veterans Initiative, the aim of which is to promote the Funeral & Burial program, as well as the Unmarked Grave Program, to Indigenous communities.
Program Coordinator Maria Trujillo is working closely with Indigenous researchers to identify unmarked graves in local communities; more specifically, the initiative offers the inscription of the Indigenous Veteran’s traditional name, and a culturally-relevant symbol is available upon request.
In choosing an image to represent the program, Communications Officer Justine McIntyre drew from a bank of images available on the CAF website “Combat Camera”, where the above photo of Sgt Tetrault-Hamel caught her attention:
“It’s a striking photo, in which we see Sgt Tetrault-Hamel (now Warrant Officer) holding the Eagle Staff during the Indigenous Sunrise ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid. This photo captures an intensely spiritual moment, and reminds us of the sacrifices made by Indigenous members of the Canadian Armed Forces over the years.”
WO Tetrault-Hamel generously granted an interview to the Last Post Fund in order to speak with us about his role as Indigenous Advisor and to describe the ceremony pictured in the photo.
“The Eagle Staff is a powerful spiritual conduit that has been in use for thousands of years by Indigenous communities across the Americas,” explained WO Moogly Tetrault-Hamel, Indigenous Advisor to the Chaplain General since August 2016. “About 20 years ago, two visionaries, one in Eastern Canada and one in Western Canada, simultaneously experienced the same dream, a dream of an Eagle Staff spiritually uniting Indigenous members of the Canadian Armed Forces, past and present. That is how the Eagle Staff of the CAF came to be.”
He further went on to describe the staff itself, of which each part has an inherent symbolism. The bow represents the First Nations peoples; the narwhal tusk represents the Inuit people, and the embroided sash (“ceinture fléchée”) represents the Métis people. The bow is ornamented with flags from each of the provinces and territories and with thirteen eagle feathers, each of which represents a month of the lunar calendar. The feathers are carefully arranged in the same order in which they lay on the body of the Eagle, in order to preserve the Eagle’s spirit in the Staff. On the bow is the imprint of the hand of an Indigenous Veteran, signifying that those who have gone before forever uphold the Eagle Staff.
To bear the Eagle Staff is a special honour and a privilege; a sacred blessing is bestowed on those towards whom the carved eagle head topping the Staff is pointed.
Last Post Fund wishes to express our gratitude to the Department of National Defence for permission to use this image, and to Warrant Officer Moogly Tetrault-Hamel for his generosity in sharing some of the Eagle Staff’s significance with us so that we may better understand and communicate our message.
To learn more about the Indigenous Advisor to the Canadian Armed Forces: Meet the Indigenous Advisor to the Chaplain General
Photo caption: Sergeant Moogly Tetrault-Hamel carries the Canadian Armed Forces Eagle Staff at the Indigenous Sunrise Ceremony in honour of the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid in Dieppe, France on August 18, 2017.
Photo: Cpl Andrew Wesley, Directorate of Army Public Affairs