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Indigenous | Canada

Indigenous veterans hold cleansing ceremony after Nazi flag appears on monument

Indigenous veterans in Ottawa say they were disgusted with what they saw on social media after someone hung a flag with a swastika on the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument earlier in the week.

“I will be very clear. The Nazi flag is a symbol of hatred and when I saw that, I saw that as an act of desecration,” Indigenous veteran Tim O’Loan said.

“I think even with this past winter’s (2022) desecration of the national monument and the desecration when people were dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, drinking and urinating on both sites – I think that’s just completely inappropriate.”

In January and February of 2022, thousands of people travelled to Ottawa to protest vaccine and mask mandates. For weeks they clogged downtown streets in Ottawa with trucks. Horns blared at all hours of the day and night. Some people were photographed urinating on the national monument just up the road from the Aboriginal Veterans Memorial.

On Wednesday, downtown was flooded with people for and against LGBTQ2S+ rights in schools.

That’s when the flag was draped over the front of the memorial. As a result, the veterans held a cleansing ceremony at the site on Friday morning.

“Well this is an Indigenous veterans’ statute and it’s a sacred space for us to come and gather,” said Natasha Dupuis, another Indigenous veteran. “And I feel that obviously that is very inappropriate to put these kinds of signs of hate. Yeah, it really disturbed me.”

O’Loan added local veterans feel they have a responsibility to keep the monument pure and free of any symbols of hate.

“Indigenous veterans in and around Ottawa, we have a bit of an obligation to make sure when our monument was desecrated that we bring it back to the sacred space that it is,” he said.

Ottawa police said they have arrested five people in relation to Wednesday’s protests. It’s not clear whether the arrests were associated with hanging the flag on the memorial.