Nunavik veteran receives long-awaited military grave marker
“Eddy went to war for our country, and that’s something that needs to be recognized”
A Nunavik Inuit veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces has been honoured for his service with the installation of a new military grave marker.
Eddy Weetaltuk of Umiujaq was a veteran of the Korean War and served 15 years with the armed forces.
He died at home in Nunavik in 2005 at age 73, and was buried in the cemetery outside his home community, by the Hudson coast.
But a fellow armed forces veteran noted that Weetaltuk’s gravesite—adorned with artificial flowers and a simple wooden cross—was missing any mention of his military service.
Retired Umiujaq police officer Alan Patterson wrote to the prime minister’s office in 2018 to ask to have Weetaltuk’s service properly recognized.
Patterson received a response last fall from the Last Post Fund, which runs Veterans Affairs Canada’s funeral and burial program.
The organization agreed to design and deliver a marker to Umiujaq, which arrived earlier this month and was recently installed by community members. The granite slab includes Weetaltuk’s name, rank, military unit and the motto “lest we forget.”
“Eddy went to war for our country, and that’s something that needs to be recognized,” Patterson told Nunatsiaq News last year. “Every military member is entitled to a military grave marker.”
In 1951, at the age of 19, Weetaltuk travelled to Ottawa and used a fake social insurance card to join the first battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
He hid his Inuit identity for many years and went by the name Eddy Vital.
Weetaltuk trained as a mortar operator and served with the mortar platoon in the Korean War. He was later stationed at armed forces bases in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec, before he left the forces in 1967.
Weetaltuk also wrote his autobiography, with the help of a Quebec anthropologist, which was published shortly after his death.
Weetaltuk’s grave marker is among the first—if not the only one—made for an Inuk veteran, the Last Post Fund said.