They fought under the Canadian flag in World War II and a group of war veterans in Moose Factory has fought the government for 50 years, only to be slighted once again.

Under the Veterans Land Act, anyone who fought in World War II was entitled to three acres of land. But Native veterans in Moose Factory lost their allotments when the government created the Moose Factory reserve in 1956. Under the Indian Act, no Native can own land, which resulted in the veterans losing their land.

In mid-December, the government of Canada offered each of the 16 veterans and their families $4,000 in compensation. The settlement was immediately rejected by the veterans, who felt affronted by the offer.

“It’s insulting,” said Emily Faries, spokesperson for the Moose Cree Veterans Claims Committee. “As children of these men who have gone to sacrifice their lives, we thought it was an insult. And everybody felt like that when they saw the settlement.”

The committee was established last fall by children of the veterans to speak on behalf of their fathers. Any work done is under the direction of the veterans.

“All the time I was growing up I used to hear about veterans’ lands. But it wasn’t until we as children of veterans became educated that we realized our fathers were ripped off,” Faries added.

After the war, Veteran Affairs passed on responsibility for many Native veterans across Canada to Indian Affairs. This was done under the assumption that Indian Affairs would ensure they would receive their land allotments. That didn’t happen.

In 1992, the Moose Factory First Nation put in a claim submission on behalf on the veterans to the federal government. On December 12, government officials visited the veterans in Moose Factory to present the offer. It was rejected the same day.

Ottawa offered the veterans $100,000, with each veteran receiving $4,000 for the lost land plus money for legal costs. Not only was there not enough money, but the package was offered to the Moose Factory First Nation, not the veterans themselves.

“This whole issue is between the veterans and the government,” said Emily Faries. “Indian Affairs is trying to make the First Nation responsible for the veterans. But in the veterans’ opinion, it’s the responsibility of Indian Affairs because they’re the ones who made the mistake,” she added.

Indian Affairs has always claimed the Canadian government has no legal obligation to the veterans, but presented the claim package anyway. Indian Affairs official Barry Dewar told The Nation the First Nation had to be involved because the land is part of the reserve, which means it’s up to the band to help resolve the problem.

Chief Ernest Beck said the government is trying to pass off the responsibility, just as Veteran Affairs did in the past.

The Moose Cree Veterans Claims Committee is now working on its own settlement package, a different one than submitted by the band. It will be presented to the government in a few months.

“We’re trying to settle this year if we can, because the veterans are dying off very quickly,” said Emily Faries, whose own father passed away two years ago.

Of the 16 veterans who lost their land entitlements, only six are still alive. In the past two years, four have died.