Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence Lawrence MacAulay was in Comox Monday to announce a contribution of $13,500 through the Commemorative Partnership Program to the Comox Valley Airport Commission in support of their Plane of Reconciliation project.
Through this project, the airport has recently installed above its departures lounge a replica of a First World War Nieuport Biplane donated by the late Captain David Freeman, a long-time pilot and aviation enthusiast. Freeman, along with a group from across Canada known as Vimy Flight, flew replica Nieuport biplanes over Vimy Ridge on April 9, 2017.
Freeman’s wish was to see the contributions and sacrifices of Indigenous peoples, and all Canadian veterans, honoured through the installation of this plane. Inspired by the Comox Canadian Forces Base unit badge which features the Kwakiutl Thunderbird, he asked that it be added to the installation.
The original badge, designed in consultation with K’ómoks Chief Andy Frank and Chief Mungo Martin in the early 1960s, was recreated by Chief Mungo Martin’s great-grandson, Hereditary Chief “walas `Namugwis” David Mungo Knox for this project. It can now be seen displayed on the plane, alongside a dedication to Freeman, by the more than 400,000 people who transit through Comox Airport annually.
“Indigenous Peoples have a long and proud tradition of military service to our country,” said MacAulay. “I’m pleased to announce our support for such a meaningful commemorative project that serves as a symbol of reconciliation, and as a testament to the history of Indigenous Peoples and the unique sacrifices they have made in service to Canada.”
“This project would not have been possible without the contribution of Captain David Freeman, MP Rachel Blaney’s office, numerous volunteers, and the support of Veterans Affairs Canada,” said Alex Robertson, the airport’s acting CEO. “We are grateful for the opportunity to showcase Canadian aviation history, while recognizing the significant contributions by the K’ómoks First Nation in this collaborative display.”