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New Medals Commemorate Aboriginal Alliances During War of 1812

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The War of 1812’s 200th anniversary is this year and is being feted in Canada for the pivotal role it played in the formation of the country. Aboriginal participation, especially in helping the British fight against the invading United States, is being celebrated as well, and on May 22 the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AAND) unveiled commemorative medals and banners that will be awarded to the 44 aboriginal First Nation and Métis communities whose heritage is linked to the conflict.

“Today I am pleased to unveil this medal as part of the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812,” said AAND Minister John Duncan in a statement. “Carrying forward the medal tradition to the present day gives us an opportunity to honor and recognize the contributions of aboriginal people to our military history.”

The medals mirror the military banners and medals presented to aboriginal groups at the end of the war, AAND said. King George medals were bestowed upon the Crown’s aboriginal allies at the time. The new ones have been created “in order to strengthen the recognition of aboriginal efforts” in the war and acknowledge the ways in which they fought alongside British forces, AAND said.

Other anniversary initiatives include a commemorative stamp depicting Tecumseh, the Shawnee chief and war leader who hoodwinked U.S. forces into capitulating at the Battle of Detroit, among other feats. That will be released next month. The Canadian government also has a website set up to commemorate the war.

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Aboriginals' special relationship to the Crown is being celebrated this week with the visit of Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, to Canada, where they are meeting with aboriginal leaders, among other activities.