The chief of a First Nation in northern Manitoba says one of the community’s residents has died after going to fight in Ukraine.
Chief Maureen Brown of Opaskwayak Cree Nation said Austin Lathlin-Bercier went to fight with the Ukrainian army shortly after the war broke out.
She said his family received word Monday that he had died.
“We at the Opaskwayak Cree Nation feel this profound loss and extend our love and support to the immediate and extended family,” Brown said in a news release.
Brown added that they have now lowered their nation’s flag out of respect.
Lathlin-Bercier started off with the cadets, then went on to the Bold Eagle program, which combines Indigenous culture and teachings with military training. He also went to teach English in Peru and was travelling in Italy and Romania when he heard about the war in Ukraine.
He called his mother Lucy, saying he had “a duty to help defend women and children,” according to the news release.
He then enlisted with the Ukrainian Army and began his battle.
“He sacrificed everything to help and paid the ultimate price,” Brown said. “The way he lived his life unselfishly and for others is a beacon of bravery for such a young man. He lived and offered his life with honor. He made our nation proud.”
A former teacher of Lathlin-Bercier, shared her condolences in a long heartfelt message on Facebook.
“He had such a huge heart, a true warrior, killed in Ukraine in the line of duty,” she wrote.
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