Indigenous and military leaders are among those offering condolences and paying tribute to WWII veteran and Indigenous advocate Philip Favel.
Born in 1922 in Prongua, on the Sweetgrass First Nation, Favel was working on his father’s farm as a labourer when he joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1942, at the age of 20. After his training at the No. 121 Canadian Army Training Centre in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan and in England, Favel was sent to France to take part in Operation Overlord.
According to his Department of National Defence biography, Favel worked to move vital supplies, including ammunition and gasoline, to the frontlines. He served in battles in Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, and on Juno Beach during D-Day.
According to numerous accounts in his biography, his truck’s windshield was hit and smashed several times but he never stopped or turned back, pushing through. He also helped an injured person and took care of two children while on task.
For this service, he was recognized with the French Legion of Honor Medal, along with several Canadian service medals. He also volunteered to serve in Japan when the war in Europe ended, a testament, the Department of National Defense says, to his dedication and courage, embodying putting country before self.
In a statement online, Defense Minister Harjitt Sajan not only recognized his service in uniform but also his advocating for fair & just compensation for Indigenous Veterans, who he says while fighting alongside other Canadians, were not treated the same when they arrived home.
National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde also praised Favel as a beacon of hope for many, and a great First Nations leader.
Upon arriving home from WWII, Favel fought for this veteran compensation, a fight the Department of National Defense says is ongoing to this day. He also served as the grand chief of the Saskatchewan First Nations Veterans Association for several years.
He was praised by the Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance back in 2020 as well, who called him a Canadian hero for his both his military service and for Indigenous veterans. This was during an unveiling of his portrait, called Normandy Warrior, done by Elaine Goble was unveiled at the Canadian War Museum.
Favel was 98 years old, and passed away in North Battleford according to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan.