Last Post Fund provides grave markers for veterans
- NC Raine | November 10, 2021
Some families at Kawacatoose First Nation have spent years, even decades, waiting for a proper military gravestone for Veterans in their families who have passed. next spring, when the ground thaws, the Last Post Fund will ensure those families will wait no longer.
“The families are so happy. This is long awaited,” said Gloria LaPlante.
“One family was told many years ago a grave marker was coming, but it never came. They had to put up their own temporary grave marker. Now they are so happy that it is finally coming.”
LaPlante, a teacher's assistant at Kawacatoose First Nation, has been working for the last year with the Last Post Fund – a Canadian non-profit started in 1909 to ensure no Veteran is denied a dignified funeral or a military gravestone – to place markers at the First Nation.
LaPlante and the Last Post Fund have identified nine Veterans’ grave sites at Kawacatoose where proper military markers will be placed, and one at the nearby Day Star First Nation. All of the gravestones are for Veterans from the First and Second World Wars or the Korean War.
When all the grave markers are ready, Chief and council at Kawacatoose have decided they will be installed during a special ceremony next May at the First Nation, LaPlante said.
“The community has been waiting. We have families here, their Veterans have passed on, and they have grandchildren who would like to see their grandpa with a grave marker or headstone,” she said.
In 2019, the Last Post Fund launched the Indigenous Veterans Initiative, which offers the placement of a military marker and inscription of Indigenous Veterans’ traditional names on existing tombstones previously placed by the Last Post Fund.
Since 2019, 130 grave markers across Canada have been ordered or already placed by the Fund. In Saskatchewan, more than 20 grave markers have been ordered or already placed. About 60 more unmarked graves of Indigenous Veterans have also been found.
Other First Nations working with the Last Post Fund include Montreal Lake Cree Nation, Cumberland House Cree Nation and Mistawasis Nêhiyawak.
“We are extremely pleased to be involved with Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan and throughout Canada in order to provide grave markers for Veterans lying in unmarked graves. We thank the communities that we have worked with so far and the researchers for their engagement and their invaluable work. We look forward to honouring more Veterans missing a grave marker,” said Edouard Pahud, executive director of the Last Post Fund.
After receiving the military records from the Last Post Fund, LaPlante took them to each family to ensure accuracy and for families to choose what they want depicted on the marker. Most chose an eagle, she said.
The task has been personal and rewarding for LaPlante, who has many Veterans in her family, all of whom she considers her heroes, she said.
“My heart was always to the Veterans,” she said.
“They fought for our country, they should be recognized. They didn't get anything when the war was over. I think we have to have a proper marking for them, it's something they worked for, something they earned.”