Laying wreath at National Ceremonies a passion for two MNO Citizens
Wreaths laid on behalf of all MNO Citizens since 2004
As they have every year since 2004, Senator Reta Gordon and Métis veteran Shaun Redmond participated in national Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa, by laying a wreath at the national cenotaph on behalf of all the citizens of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO). Senator Reta and Shaun have performed this important gesture on behalf of the MNO in good weather and bad because it is very meaningful on a personal level for both of them, and because it is important to recognize our many Métis Veterans who gave and continue to give so much in securing and sustaining the rights and freedoms that we all enjoy.
Shaun enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1971 and rose to the rank of Lieutenant prior to joining the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1980. Although retired, he still serves as a Captain in the Reserves and trains cadets. “My father’s brother was killed action in Italy during World War II,” explained Shaun, “and it [laying the wreath] is a way to remember him.” Shaun also feels that the MNO’s involvement reminds Canadians that the Métis have played a part in conflicts throughout the history of Canada. “We have participated in everything from the War of 1812, to peacekeeping missions, to now in Afghanistan, not just in the two World Wars,” Shaun pointed out, “it is important the MNO is present at the ceremonies to communicate this fact to all Canadians.”
Each year following protocol, Shaun, as a veteran, presents the MNO wreath to Senator Reta who then lays the wreath on the cenotaph. Senator Reta’s father and her nine uncles all participated in World War II. Then later in the 1950s, her four brothers also served in the military and one of her brothers, George Kelly, even participated in the national Remembrance Day ceremonies this year. “It is good to let everyone know the Métis are here and that we support Remembrance Day,” explained Senator Reta. The Senator also believes the ceremonies are a great relationship builder with First Nations, who like the MNO, lay wreaths following the Governor-General and the Government of Canada. “While waiting, Shaun and I all stand in a little area with the First Nations,” Senator Reta pointed out, “and I think it helps us feel closer to each other.”
Senator Reta and Shaun are also involved in remembrance through Health Canada. Each year Health Canada invites Shaun to lead remembrance activities for the week of Remembrance Day at the Iskatew Lodge at Tunney’s Pasture in Ottawa. The Iskatew (Algonquin meaning “the fire from within”) Lodge highlights different aspects of Aboriginal culture throughout the year and during the week of Remembrance Day focuses on the contributions of Aboriginal veterans. Shaun invites Reta to assist him in leading activities at the Lodge for the week, which helps increase awareness of the many contributions of Métis veterans.
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