Derek Anderson, Métis Nation of Ontario's Pride
I joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1995 at the age of 16. I think a lot of the reason I gravitated towards the idea of being in the army as it seemed exciting to me when I was a child. It was also the era of the exciting Vietnam-war television show Tour of Duty. To compound that interest, my uncle served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army, and as I kid, he would tell me the odd story here and there.
Throughout my career, I suffered many injuries that have taken their toll on me ranging from a back injury from parachuting to combat-related PTSD. These only scratch the surface, but it led the way to me becoming a Soldier On member.
I became involved with Soldier On at my wife’s “insistence.” She kept suggesting that I apply for the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney, Australia, and eventually I did, not expecting to be accepted.
I am of Métis descent. I’m a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario, but interestingly, my family history is the perceived classic Métis story that comes to the mind of most people. My family history harkens back to the Red River area and time frame of Louis Riel. Therefore as an Indigenous person, I believe that Indigenous Day is a day to celebrate who we are, our various cultures and traditions, to remember our ancestors and our history.
From my experience, I believe what often gets overlooked is the sheer diversity within our culture. I’ve found that all Indigenous cultures in Canada seem to be covered with the same blanket whether we are the First Nations, Métis and Inuit. The fact that people don’t know that there are separate indigenous groups inside of the words Indigenous people, each with their own set of traditions, culture, beliefs and history is something that I believe should receive more attention.