Sheldon Quinn knows National Indigenous Veterans Day is much more than a day of commemoration—it's a sign of progress in a country with a troubled relationship with its Indigenous soldiers.

Sheldon, a combat veteran for the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) and the current Indigenous Advisor to the Commander for the Canadian Army is a cousin of Suncor employee Daniel Kachur. Both Sheldon and Daniel see advances in reconciliation in the military as a great example for the rest of society to follow. Daniel works closely with Journeys, Suncor’s Indigenous employee network, in Edmonton and talks with Sheldon to see if any reconciliation activities in the military could also be applied within Suncor. 

The PPCLI is one of the three regular force infantry regiments of the Canadian Army. The regiment was founded in 1914 and is named for Princess Patricia of Connaught, daughter of the then-Governor General of Canada. Sheldon didn’t have much military knowledge growing up and can’t name a specific reason he initially signed up for the military. 

“I don't know why I joined the military. I was thinking about enlisting one day and I went through the recruiting procedure but didn't sign the dotted line,” remembers Sheldon. “It wasn’t until two years later I accepted the call to join the military.” 

After 32 years of service, including tours in Afghanistan, Sheldon has no regrets about his decision to enlist. 

“In my Indigenous advisor role, I want to build on what I've learned as an Indigenous person in the military,” says Sheldon. “In the Indigenous world, we're committed to always learning and it’s the same in the military world. If I can learn from my Indigenous heritage and the military, and then pass that experience on to our leadership and the younger Indigenous members within the military, I believe that is a success. It shows the cultures can mix and co-exist together.” 

In his role as Indigenous Advisor, Sheldon works hard to ensure Indigenous cultures are respected. Recently, he also received the honour of carrying the Eagle Staff for the Canadian military. The Eagle Staff was established in the early 2000s as an emblem for all Indigenous combat veterans in Canada. The staff is made up of eagle feathers, narwhal tusk, ash bow, and moose antler to represent all Indigenous veterans and active members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Each treaty area and Indigenous group has their own version of the Eagle Staff. Sheldon’s experience carrying it started in 2016 and in 2017, he was chosen to carry at the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, in front of a crowd of 25,000. 

“When I was up on stage with the Eagle Staff, I thought of the 4,000 Indigenous veterans who served in First World War,” says Sheldon. “I thought to myself, did they realize? Did they know that 100 years after they fought on the battlefield, there would be an Eagle Staff there in their honour, on the hallowed grounds of Vimy Ridge.” 

Sheldon believes the reconciliation progress being made in the military could be replicated for all of Canada. At Suncor, his cousin Daniel sees the progress being made by Journeys as a positive sign for this change. 

Journeys sage harvest on Nose Hill.
Journeys sage harvest on Nose Hill in Calgary- an example of the work Journeys does to advance reconciliation at Suncor.

“The Edmonton Journeys chapter has provided many opportunities for learning and participating in reconciliation. These opportunities have included a Fireside Chat on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, sharing circles, a teepee raising ceremony, awareness of the Moose Hide Campaign, smudges, and being part of the Enoch Cree Nation Pow Wow Grand Entry,” says Daniel, who is an environment, health and safety manager for Suncor’s Business and Operations Services. “One of the most beneficial things about the network is it doesn’t matter where you are personally, you can be a part of the journey.” 

On November 8, we invite everyone to take a moment to honour the Indigenous veterans who served our country.