On June 6, 2019 veterans and their families, including several Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Veterans, met at Juno Beach in France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the landing of Allied forces in Normandy.
“Juno Beach holds great significance, as it changed the tides of war,” explained Doug Woods, MNO Veterans Council executive and Sargent at Arms, “It enabled the allies to land and bring armament and personnel.”
In honour of this significant anniversary, members of the MNO Veterans’ Council including Doug Woods, Shelly Claus, and Paul Pirie traveled with Canadian delegates to the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy, France. The Juno Beach Centre is Canada’s Second World War museum and cultural centre in the region. It stands as a memorial to the sacrifices Canadians have made for their country including the more than 45,000 Canadians who lost their lives in this devastating war.
The Centre occupies the site where Canadian forces first landed during World War II. A special exhibit honouring the contributions of Métis soldiers was added to the Centre in 2009. “Meeting with the French at Juno Beach, they were very appreciative of Canadians and very thankful for the sacrifices made by Canadians in saving them from Nazi Germany,” described Woods, “My wife’s father had fought in the War so visiting these spaces and learning about the battle was a truly humbling experience.”
The anniversary event in Juno brought over 30,000 individuals from across the globe together including dozens of World War II Veterans. The Métis have long been recognized for their courage and proud tradition of military service. Commemorative events such as these provide a space to reflect on their sacrifices, bravery, and selfless heroism.