Dave Jacobson, Usma Elder's Coordinator with a poster of photos of Nuu-chah-nulth war vets.

Photo Credit: Denise Titian | Ha-Shilth-Sa

Are Your Ancestors Heroes?

These kids got this question answered in a big way

Past veterans continue to impact the present through these kids

There’s a thing about being human. Our lives are profoundly brief in the grand scheme of things.

We live, leave our mark on the world, and die. At some point, we’ll all be forgotten.

But the impacts we made during our lives never cease to exist in some way or another.

For many, we live on in our children.

This is more prominent than ever for war veterans. Many of them gave their lives to ensure we could all live with the extraordinary privileges we have today.

Kids in schools all across Canada will be learning about these heroes and in the lead up to Remembrance Day.

One group, called Usma Nuu-chah-nulth Family & Child Services in Port Alberni, has taken this learning a step further. They’re helping kids make direct connections to their own family members who’ve served, both those who are still with us and those who’ve passed on.

“Usma is inviting children and youth to share a meal with local veterans and have the opportunity to honour their past and present family members,” read the invitation to the first event, which took place last week at the Usma office building.

The organization gathered names and photographs of Nuu-chah-nulth veterans in a beautiful display. Then they helped the kids to find out who they were related to and learn about their service.

The team identified descendants of the veterans by using their Family Tree Database.

Through doing this, the children not only made connections to their past but to each other.

Leisa Hassall is an Usma Connections Worker. “The event is a beautiful way to connect our present youth to their ancestors, a way to connect present to past,” she told Ha-Shilth-Sa.

“This was an opportunity for youth in care to see how they are directly related to each other, coming from the same families,” she added.

This event was planned ahead of Remembrance Day, with the intention of encouraging these kids to continue researching and learning about their ancestors. It gave them a real Nuu-chah-nulth name and story to take pride in on November 11th.

“We wanted to plant a seed for children and caregivers to learn more about the identity of our children, to create curiosity about who they are connected to,” said Hassall to Ha-Shilth-Sa.

While many of these veterans have long since passed, through remembering them, these kids carried their accomplishments into the present.

They may not be with us anymore, but the way they lived is still very much making an impact.