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Plane of Reconciliation project honors Indigenous veterans


Last updated 4/8/2020 at 4:12pm

Library and Archives Canada PA-041366

Elders and Indigenous soldiers in the uniform of the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

COMOX, B.C.-The Comox Valley Airport has recently installed above its departures lounge a replica of a First World War Nieuport biplane donated by the late Captain David Freeman, a long time pilot and aviation enthusiast as part of the Plane of Reconciliation project.

Freeman's wish was for the 400,000 people who pass through the airport annually to see the plane as a reminder of the contributions and sacrifices of Indigenous Peoples, and all Canadian Veterans, honored through the installation of this plane.

Freeman and a group from across Canada known as Vimy Flight, flew replica Nieuport Biplanes over Vimy Ridge on 9 April 2017.

Freeman had also requested that a Kwakiutl Thunderbird insignia be painted onto the plane.

The original badge, designed in the early 1960s by K'ómoks Chief Andy Frank and Chief Mungo Martin was re-created by Chief Mungo Martin's great-grandson, Hereditary Chief "walas `Namugwis" David Mungo Knox for the plane.

To further the project, in mid-February, the Honorable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, announced a contribution of $13,500 through the Commemorative Partnership Program to the Comox Valley Airport Commission in support of their Plane of Reconciliation project.

More than 7,000 First Nations members served in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War, and an unknown number of Inuit, Métis and other Indigenous people also participated. One Veterans group estimates that 12,000 Indigenous men and women served in the three wars.

Comox Valley Airport

The Nieuport Biplane was donated by the late Capt David Freeman, a long time pilot and aviation enthusiast.

"Indigenous Peoples have a long and proud tradition of military service to our country," said MacAulay, upon presenting the contribution. "I'm pleased to announce our support for such a meaningful commemorative project that serves as a symbol of reconciliation and as a testament to the history of Indigenous Peoples and the unique sacrifices they have made in service to Canada."

"We are grateful for the opportunity to showcase Canadian aviation history, while recognizing the significant contributions by the K'ómoks First Nation in this collaborative display," said Alex Robertson, Chief Executive Officer of the Comox Valley Airport.

Veterans Affairs Canada's Commemorative Partnership Program provides funding to organizations undertaking remembrance initiatives. Organizations planning a commemorative event or project in their communities are encouraged to apply for funding.


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