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Metis veterans' rights

Bill Laferte leads NWT campaign

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Nov 12/01) - A Deh Cho man wants to ensure Metis veterans receive all the benefits they deserve.

Bill Laferte is NWT interim chair for the National Metis Veterans' Association, formed last year to advocate for Metis veterans' rights.

SUBHEAD: CUTLINE #1: Derek Neary/NNSL photo Bill Laferte is the NWT representative for the National Metis Veterans' Association. by Northern News Services Liidlii Kue/

Since June, he has been doing research and conducting interviews with Metis veterans and their family members. Laferte makes veterans aware their rights to a pension, assistance with chores such as housekeeping and snow shovelling, if they live in their own home, and education benefits for their children.

He has already visited Yellowknife and Hay River and, with a modest travel budget, will attempt to contact others by telephone.

He became acquainted with the association through the northern Alberta representative, who invited him to attend a Metis veterans' gathering at Batoche, Sask. this past summer. During the opening ceremony, Laferte was one of 28 veterans to march to the grave sites of Metis militia men who were killed in 1885; warriors such as Gabriel Dumont and others.

"For some reason this was special. I felt in tune with the Metis people as a whole across the country," he recalled. "Not proud, but rather humble."

From Batoche, he went on to Saskatoon where he met with association president Bruce Flamont. After hearing about the group's purpose and objectives, Laferte agreed to be the NWT interim chair.

"It's something I came to see as a worthwhile thing," he said. "I know what these guys are up against, and it's not easy."

Laferte served six years with the Royal Canadian Corps of Engineers, attaining the rank of sergeant.