Country mourns the loss of First Nations warrior Philip Favel

Tributes to Philip Favel, one of the oldest First Nations veterans of the Second World War, poured in after his passing Sunday.

Favel was from Sweetgrass First Nation, located two hours northwest of Saskatoon.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his condolences over social media.

“Philip Favel served our country with honour and courage, and he helped build a better world for all of us – both on the front lines and back here at home. Sophie and I are sending our deepest condolences to Mr. Favel’s family, friends, and all who were inspired by his service,” Trudeau wrote.

Favel was born April 30, 1922 and worked on his father’s farm prior to joining the military.

At the time, First Nations were free from conscription – but Favel enlisted into the army in 1942 at the age of 19, and chose to serve with the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (RCASC).

He completed his basic training at the Canadian Army Training Centre in Maple Creek, Sask., and served overseas from 1943 to 1945.

On June 6 1944, Favel was part of the D-Day invasion, codenamed Operation Overlord.

He was deployed to Juno beach with over 14,000 Canadians in the allied campaign meant to free Western Europe from Nazi occupation.

With the RCASC, Favel was charged with transporting supplies like ammunitions and gasoline to the troops at the front lines.

His biography on the National Defence website says Favel was a driver for the 3rd Division and the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade and served in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

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98-year old First Nations warrior Philip Favel honoured by the Canadian War Museum 

Favel earned the French Legion of Honor Medal, the highest distinction awarded by the French republic, for helping an injured person and two children he came across on his duties.

His other medal earned include; 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal, War Medal 1939-1945 and the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

“Mr. Favel’s dedication and courage embodies the idea of putting country before self,” reads Favel’s biography.

When the war ended in Europe Favel volunteered to go to Japan but the war was coming to an end and he never made it there to serve.

After returning back to Canada Favel continued his fight and served as a long-time advocate for the rights and fair compensation for Indigenous veterans.

On Nov. 8, 2020 Favel was honored with a portrait that now hangs in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde posted this to social media Sunday.

“Today, Canada lost a great First Nations leader in Philip Favel. A Juno Beach Veteran and a lifelong advocate, Philip was a beacon of hope for many. My heart goes out to the family and to Sweetgrass First Nation, as they mourn this incredible loss. Rest in Peace, Philip.”

Philip Favel was 98 years old.

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