Recognizing Henry Coman on National Indigenous Veterans Day
National Indigenous Veterans Day is a Memorial Day observed in Canada in recognition of aboriginal contributions to military service, particularly in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War.
Henry Coman was born in Pangnirtung but grew up and went to school in Iqaluit.
He joined the RCMP in 1993 and served in different communities like Qikiqtarjuaq, Rankin Inlet and Yellowknife until he retired from the RCMP in 2018. His grandfather, Joanasie Dialla, who was a special constable for 23 years, was his inspiration to join the RCMP.
When an opportunity to serve in Afghanistan became available, he applied and was successful. Henry was sent to Ottawa for pre-deployment training for two weeks and was deployed two months later. The training included getting accustomed to how military operates and learning to handle weapons used in wars.
Mr. Coman was deployed in March 2007 for a year. When he arrived in Afghanistan, he was part of a team training the Afghan National Police Force in basic policing skills, first aid and training. He was also involved in patrolling different police offices within Kandahar City.
The first thing Henry noticed when he landed in Afghanistan was the heat! He says by the end of the day he was covered in sweat after wearing combat gear all day.
His experience overseas made him appreciate everything we have in Canada and noted the conditions of the roads, schools, and shelters.
He says he’s honored to have been part of a team to help the Afghans and was happy to be a part of a mission to provide assistance. He was part of the Camp Nathan Smith, Kandahar’s Provincial Reconstruction Team which included finding out what the people in that country needed and to help build back much needed infrastructure.
Henry was most of all honored to represent Nunavut and the Inuit culture. He says he was reminded of similarities when he was invited to have watermelon where the fruit was cut up on cardboard box and shared and eaten from the floor.
On this Indigenous Veterans Day, Henry is happy that indigenous people are being included and recognized for their achievements, their involvement and represent part of Canadian culture.
Henry is married to Alison Coman and has two grown daughters, currently working with the Government of Nunavut’s Devolution Department. He is also a graduate of Nunavut’s first Akittsiraq Law Program where he graduated in 2005.
We would like to thank Henry Coman for his service and thank him for his contributions to Nunavut.