Native veterans who fought in the Canadian Forces during World War II have been offered a compensation deal from the federal government that many are saying is unjust.
Following the war, these Native veterans were given a maximum of $2,320 to build a house; but they never saw the money as it was given to the Indian Agent to manage. Non-Native veterans were granted three acres of land plus $6,000 to build a farm.
Many Native veterans say they are owed $420,000 each for lost opportunities. In February 2000, a national roundtable recommended payments of $120,000 each. The compensation being offered is a mere $20,000 for each of the 1,800 veterans (or surviving spouses).
Veterans Affairs Minister Ray Pagtakhan said, "This is not compensation, but an offer of goodwill."
"It's very reluctantly accepted," said Howard Anderson, a WWII vet and head of Saskatchewan First Nations Veterans Association. "None of us are happy with it, but we're too damn old to wait any longer."
"Our veterans fought to help protect the freedom of all Canadian citizens and are being faced with little recognition from the Government of Canada," Atlantic Policy Congress Chief Second Peter Barlow said. "They should receive the same benefits as any other veteran who went to war on behalf of Canada."