Métis veteran invited to Ottawa Nov. 11
by Derek Cornet
Alex Maurice of Beauval will attend Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa Nov. 11 where he will deliver the Act of Remembrance in the Michif language.
Maurice, a Métis veteran who served in the Canadian Forces with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, was raised in Beauval, but spent eight years in the military and toured places such as Australia and Cypress. He said he’s been participating in Remembrance Day ceremonies for more than 25 years and has done so locally and across the province.
“I think it’s an honour to be asked,” Maurice said. “The Act of Remembrance has never before been read in our language.”
Maurice left the armed forces after the birth of his first child because he wanted to raise a family. Prior to leaving, he also spent time training at Fort Walsh in the United States and learned to jump from planes and commence missions upon hitting the ground. He began his recruit training in Nova Scotia in 1974.
The Act of Remembrance is a regular feature at the national service in Ottawa and will be broadcast live on TV throughout the country. Maurice’s daughter, Melanie, was happy her father was asked to attend to ceremony and noted, when he found out, it put a huge smile on his face.
“It’s something he’s passionate about and he’s an advocate for Métis veterans,” she said.
R.J. Morin, a teacher at Rossignol High School in Ile-a-la Crosse, is looking forward to listening to the speech and added he is going to inform as many people as possible in the community to watch. Morin teaches Michif at the school and the language was the first he ever knew.
Morin went on to say Michif is a relatively new language and very few generations of Métis people have spoken it.
“We’re trying to teach the language, but it’s difficult,” he said. “There’s only so much time we can teach it and we extend it into other subjects so the students are exposed to it.”
Morin said he was taught to speak the language by his parents, but added it’s no longer being spoken at home. In the Ile-a-la Crosse School Division, he said instruction in the language begins in elementary school and continues into high school.
The Remembrance Day ceremony will be held, as usual, at the National War Memorial – the same location where Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was shot and killed Oct. 22 while on guard. Maurice said the incident has left him saddened but unwavered.
“We can’t let a lunatic terrorist scare us,” he said. “We have to move forward and let the world know we’re not going to be intimidated.”