Aboriginal veteran and his family of service

PO1 (Retired) Victor Flett, 2012

PO1 (Retired) Victor Flett, 2012

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

When 92-year-old PO1 (Retired) Victor Flett bows his head in a moment of silence on Remembrance Day, he will think of beloved family members who served Canada honourably.

He is the last in line of three generations from Manitoba’s Peguis First Nation to serve in Canada’s military. The members of Peguis First Nation are of Saultaux (Ojibway) and Cree descent.

His Grandfather, whom he never met, is a source of immense pride and pain for him and his family. That’s because Pte David William Stranger, an infantryman in the Canadian Army, was killed at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in the First World War.

“It was very sad for us that he was not there when I was young; this stands out most for me in my memories of my family and life,” says Flett. “Even though I never met him, his memory made me very aware of the sacrifice put into defending the freedoms of our country, pride in being Canadian, and being able to serve his country the way he did.”

Flett’s father Edward, also a soldier, served as infantry in the final months of the First World War.

At age three, Flett’s mother died of TB and his grandmother, a widow who raised seven children of her own, took in him and his five siblings and raised them on his grandfather’s land. She was a great source of strength with her strong and enduring faith in God and lifelong membership of Saint Peter’s Old Stone Church near Selkirk, MB, says Flett.

As grown men, Flett and his brothers joined the military, with three serving Canada during the Second World War.

His oldest brother Andrew worked as a marine engineer in the Merchant Navy during the Battle of the Atlantic. His other brother George was a Royal Canadian Air Force gunner in Lancaster Bombers. His brother closest in age, David was in the army and landed on the beaches of Normandy as a member of the Royal Regina Rifles. All of them made it home after the war.   

Flett served his 33-year-career in the Royal Canadian Navy. He served aboard one of eight destroyers deployed to Korea, HMCS Crusader.

As a young Able Seaman he worked in the destroyer as a Sonarman. His ship was involved in the bombardment of Chinese positions, and after the cease fire was signed, they worked to protect South Korean navy vessels involved in mine-sweeping operations. After the war, he went on to serve in two cruisers, multiple destroyers and one frigate, which trained junior officers in navigation and anchorage.

He says he truly enjoyed his service, especially exploring Canada’s West Coast for the first time in his life.

“As a young man from Manitoba, I marvelled at the beautiful coastline and also the Salish Coast people who lived there; for me it was heaven on earth.”

Following his service in the Canadian Armed Forces, Flett worked as a Commissionaire at CFB Esquimalt and various locations around Victoria.

He has three children, seven grandchildren, and six great granchildren.

On Remembrance Day, at his retirement home Amica on the Gorge, he will read aloud the poem In Flanders Fields and the Oath of Remembrance over the public address system.  It’s a moment, says Flett, he is looking forward to.

“When I read these passages, I will be thinking of my grandfather and all the members of Canada’s military who served their country with pride and distinction.”


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  1. Charlene Kopansky says:

    Victor, thank you for continuing to share your story. My Father, Metro Kopansky, deeply respected your commitment to serving in the Navy and honoured the friendship you shared for so many years. Stories of how your Grandmother welcomed my father into the family home in rural Manitoba have emerged over the years. I suspect your Grandmother and you, had a significant affect on shaping the person my Father became. Thank you for being his friend, thank you for serving our country and for being such an incredible man.

  2. Marilyn Kopansky Allen says:

    Thank you Victor for the priceless service your family has given the people of Canada.

    Your family and grandmother have had a positive influence on my family. To this day the Kopansky’s live by many of the life lessons our father, Metro, learned from your grandmother. A remarkable woman , and a remarkable family. with gratitude, Marilyn

  3. Crystal Smith says:

    So proud to hear this story. Your an inspiration and we Thank you and your family for all you have done and sacrificed for our freedoms. Hugs Uncle Vic!

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