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Military sociology

Two soldiers

Author’s collection

Elmer Sinclair (at right with Teddy Quesnil in December 1940) served during the Second World War and the Korean War, where he worked the radios for the PPCLI during the Battle at Kapyong.

Different Drummers: Aboriginal Culture and the Canadian Armed Forces, 1939-2002

by John MacFarlane and John Moses1

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“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

– Henry David Thoreau2

The idea of marching to a different drummer is necessarily largely alien to the military, as a great deal of conformity is essential for efficient military training and operations. Nevertheless, there are occasions when accommodation for individuals or cultural groups with a different pace is appropriate.3

After varying degrees of segregation and assimilation policies during the early 20th Century, Canadian Forces (CF) attempts to recruit and retain Aboriginal peoples in the past 30 years have been based on mutual accommodation.4 The Northern Native Entry Program of 1971, expanded into the CF Aboriginal Entry Program in the late 1990s, is designed to help those with traditional values adapt to becoming a CF member. It offers Aboriginal people pre-recruitment training courses in Yellowknife and Farnham that include cross-cultural and military awareness sessions. CF recruiters also receive “cultural awareness training that helps them to better associate with Aboriginal applicants and understand their needs.”5

The success of these programs, and those that will be developed in the future, depends largely upon past experiences. This article will present the perception of some Aboriginal veterans from 1939 to 2002 who adapted to the Canadian military culture while retaining various degrees of their own Aboriginal heritage.6 The main source is a collection of 60 interviews with Aboriginal people from across Canada.7 These have been divided into three groups of 20: veterans of the Second World War; those who served from 1946 to 1968; and post-unification members. These accounts of their experiences will focus upon four themes: the motivation to join; the racial problems encountered during military service and within Canadian society; the unique characteristics and experiences that appeared to help them assimilate and participate as servicepersons; and how their military experiences affected their lives after national service.

This is not a history of Aboriginal peoples in the CF. Several excellent studies have presented the general themes of that history, including the relevant key policy discussions of high-level decision-makers, and the individual Aboriginals who won decorations for gallantry or who rose to high rank.8 We hope to complement those works by studying how three generations of Aboriginal members of the Armed Forces have perceived their experiences. None of the 60 people interviewed won the Victoria Cross or rose through the ranks to lead the army. But, together, they represent the attitudes to the Canadian military that are circulating through Aboriginal communities today. The importance of understanding these attitudes will become apparent when we see the number of young people whose decision to join the military was influenced by their family and community.

The Second World War: 1939-1945

Experiences from the First World War greatly affected Aboriginal enrolment in 1939. About 4000 Treaty Indians signed up from 1914 to 1918, despite many obstacles. These included Ottawa’s eventual policy not to accept Native volunteers, as “Germans might refuse to extend to them the privileges of civilized warfare.”9 However, many had already enlisted, and the Militia, raising the Canadian Expeditionary Force units, remained either unaware of the prohibition or decided to ignore it. Aboriginal recruits enlisted for the same reasons other Canadians did – patriotism, adventure, or simply to earn a regular wage – but there was still a warrior ethos extant in certain bands, particularly those from the more remote regions of the country.10 Once overseas, there were problems adjusting to certain military practices, such as the distinction between commissioned officers and other ranks.11 However, familiarity with rifles and nature proved useful to Aboriginal Canadians, as it did to others from rural backgrounds.12 Returning Aboriginal veterans sought improvements to the Indian Act but were disappointed, and on the eve of the Second World War, Status Indians in Canada had a severely limited range of civil, political and legal rights.13

During the Second World War, approximately 3000 Indians living on reserves volunteered for service.14 This was an impressive number, considering their position in Canadian society, but it was less than the number who volunteered for duty during the First World War.15 In 1940, the war in Europe was not going in favour of the Allies, and Ottawa’s policies, particularly the decision to include Status Indians in the conscription for home defence act, hampered recruitment.16 According to historian N.F. Dreisziger, Canada, in 1939, “Canada did not possess the administrative machinery to involve in the war effort the portion of the Canadian population that was neither of British nor of French background.”17 Most served in the infantry, where a lower educational standard was required and the work demands were more suited to many Aboriginal recruits. Most importantly, the air force and the navy demonstrated a marked reluctance to accept non- Caucasian recruits. Nevertheless, the number of Aboriginal recruits was close to the Canadian average.18

“Why do you come and fight us?” Henry Beaudry, an Ojibway from the Sweetgrass Reserve in Saskatchewan, remembers being asked this question by his German captor in November 1944. The German had visited Saskatchewan in the 1930s and could not understand why North American Indians, “the best fighters in the world,” would fight with European Canadians who “took all your country.” Beaudry, who had been repeating that he did not understand English, remained silent.19


Author’s collection

The third head from the bottom is Jean-Baptiste Lainé, a Huron from Loretteville, Québec, who fit in well while training at Wainright in September 1943. He went overseas with the Signal Corps.

For others who have spoken on the subject, the influence of community, family and particularly the father played an important role in their decision to join the military from 1939 to 1945. Most came from families where the father and/or many close relatives had military experience, and they felt encouraged to join by their community. Nine of the 20 interviewed indicated that their main reason for joining was that they were following members of their family or community.20 Three emphasized that they were fighting for an important cause and three were conscripted. Russell Modeste, of the Cowichan tribe in Duncan, B.C., remembered that sympathy for staff members at his Residential School who had lost loved ones encouraged him to join.21

An aboriginal

DND photo HS040062d02 by Corporal Shawn M. Kent, Formation Imaging Services, Halifax

Master Warrant Officer (MWO) Guy Mandeville, the Canadian Forces Postal Unit (CFPU) Halifax Sergeant Major, in his traditional Métis dress.

Only two veterans suggested that they had been victims of racism during the war, and that they had to work harder to prove themselves. The great majority (14) remembered that they and other Aboriginal people had been treated as equals by their “brothers” through those very trying times. “We depended on each other,” several noted, and all that mattered was that people did their job well. However, only one of these 14 considered that such equality extended to civilian life after they returned to Canada.22 Howard Anderson notes: “It was the coming back that was the hard part...That’s where the problem was. We could never be the same yet we were the same in the army.”23 According to Sam Sinclair, in the post-war period, “our people knew they were not [receiving] fair treatment but they did not raise hell.” This remark applies to the use of protests or sit-ins, such as those that now occur.24 Russell Modeste remembers being jailed upon his return for possession of a liquor ticket, which was rationed in Canada and forbidden to Indians. He and other returning soldiers were issued the ticket upon disembarking the ship, but: “The Magistrate told me that ‘once you entered Canadian territorial waters you were now just another Indian! You have no special privileges and you have to abide by the law.’...You remember these things.”25

Several of the 20 veterans remembered cultural characteristics that had helped them during their time overseas. Many referred to the use of firearms for hunting. Elmer Sinclair recalls his father teaching him to shoot a rifle by looking along the barrel with both eyes open, but his army instructor insisted that he close the disengaged eye: “I couldn’t do it. I got on the rifle range and I had both eyes open... I never learned to close one eye.” But he did qualify as a sharpshooter.26 As Canadian soldiers were helping liberate Holland and maintaining good relations with the local citizens was considered important, Lawrence Martin of Nipigon, Ontario, remembered staying with a family most interested in the Aboriginal culture. He kept in touch after the war and recently returned with a native group to perform a pipe ceremony.27

After the war, Sydney Gordon found the distance from his reserve in Punnichy, Saskatchewan, to the battlefields of Europe particularly great. Even before his fighting in Italy started in 1943, he had doubts about joining the army. Leaving Halifax, his friend woke him and said: “‘Come up on deck, I want to show you where we came from.’ We were deep in the water and I looked and I couldn’t see where the heck I came from. I couldn’t see land. It was quite an experience.”28 George Myram of Edwin, Manitoba, remembers landing at Normandy on 6 June 1944 and “seeing the dead, the wounded and the suffering. I think that was the longest day of my life.” Charles Bird also landed at Juno Beach on D-Day and agrees that the experience was worse than he imaged – even after hearing his father tell of the time he fought at Vimy Ridge.29 Nurse Irene Hoff from the Abenaki band of Odanak, Québec, also had challenges adjusting and sad memories30 but, as with four others of the 20, remained in the Canadian Army and, as with almost all those interviewed, was glad to have had the experience.31 Most were well received back home, and four referred specifically to feeling that they received greater respect within their family, their community and the country.32 They had participated as equals, were appreciated and their confidence grew. Three others emphasized how useful their education and training had been for subsequent careers.

Korea and Early Peacekeeping: 1946-1967

After the Second World War, as after the First World War, when Aboriginal veterans returned home, many led their communities in the search for improved citizenship status and legal rights. Of particular importance were the Parliamentary hearings on the Indian Act in 1946-1947.33 Although Treaty Indians would not acquire the right to vote until 1960, they once again answered the call when the Korean War broke out in 1950,34 and many remained in the military to participate in the earliest peacekeeping operations.

Among the recruits who served during this period, the 11 who joined to fight had motives that most resembled those of the Second World War veterans, namely: following others and defending a worthwhile cause.35 For Robert Carriere of Winnipeg, fighting communist aggression in Korea was more important than maintaining the traditional hostility towards the army that some members of his family had shared since his grandfather had fought with Louis Riel.36 However the influence of family members remained great for most, including Harvey Tommy Holmes Horlock from Toronto, whose uncle, Tommy Holmes, won the Victoria Cross during the First World War. “Having most of my [relatives] serving in the army, it kind of drew me like a magnet.”37 Louis Schmidt of Vancouver saw his brothers, his sisters and his father join the army, but he preferred the navy. “They had to do a lot of walking. I thought by joining the navy I could see more.”38

In addition to fighting wars and following the influences of family members, some referred to specific events that motivated them to join. Fred Young of Winnipeg was moved by the work of the Army during the Winnipeg flood of 1950. “It was very impressive to me, the way they rescued people [from] the second story windows. They were very inspirational.”39 Bill Lafferty of Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories, credits the military presence in his community for his decision to join the army. He was 11 years old in 1942 when the American army arrived, building the airport and bringing movies. “I remember seeing, around 1943 or so, a documentary on the bombing of Pearl Harbor...the military presence here, the Royal Canadian Engineers and the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, who replaced the American. Army after the war...inspired me to become a soldier myself.” He also remembers the huge cultural impact when, “for the first time in my life, I saw Indians in movies...with white men firing flaming arrows at them.”40

Russ Moses joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1950 and remembers that the biggest cultural shock for him was not trying to fit in as an Aboriginal person, but as a Canadian in a service he considers was “more British than it was Canadian.”41 This view was also held by many non-Aboriginal Canadians. He felt he would have been more comfortable in the air force, where he found discipline “very much more relaxed” and “more socially integrated” than the navy, where there was “a definite line between the officers and the ratings.” As with veterans from the Second World War, 14 of the 20 found that they had not been treated differently because of their Aboriginal heritage.42 One who did find adjusting difficult was Joe John Sanipass. Coming from the relatively isolated community of Big Cove, New Brunswick, he was not used to the strict discipline, morning inspections and shoe shining, and when he was leaving for Germany to unfamiliar songs and bagpipe music, he felt even more out of place. However, after he met a group of “natives from Saskatchewan... he just fit right in there,” and found it much easier to socialize with white friends.43

Again, once they were outside the military, adjusting was more difficult.44 Victor Flett remembers well that his family lost the land that they had been promised.45 Stephen Simon recalls being encouraged by his Indian Agent to sign a disenfranchise form, “and I would receive some money [from the] federal Department of Indian Affairs...I didn’t know what to do. There were no other Indian people around to turn to for advice.” So he approached his commanding officer, who tore up the form and advised: “‘Do not sell your status.’ And I never did.”46

Some of the distinctions referred to as being helpful included adjusting to the environment. Bill Lafferty felt that the “long, long sunlight in the summer months,” and the “long and very, very dark” winter nights, accompanied by rapid changes in climate to which he was accustomed, enabled him to function almost anywhere, and he had no trouble adapting to the Sinai Desert.47

In the case of Russell Piché of Calgary, an attempt at map reading in Korea was not particularly successful. “I never was much on maps,” so when asked to locate a spot, he says: “I was having a heck of a time.” The previous night, some of his group had been discussing “how the North American Indian could find his way around in the bush better with a compass or a map than the Caucasian,” and one friend now commented that Piché, a Métis, must be only half lost.48

Later questioned as to how they felt their military experiences had helped them, the Korean veterans replied in terms that were again similar to the Second World War veterans. Michael Sanipass suffered from memories of the horrors of war, while still acknowledging that his experience had been positive, and had helped him deal with subsequent issues. “I wanted to find out [about] life...and I think I did. I had quite an experience and I don’t think I want to experience [anything like that again!].”49 Wes Whitford believes that the army helped him develop self-esteem and land better jobs despite the prejudice in Canadian society. “I was able to cope pretty well with the discipline...and it gave me more confidence I believe. I enjoyed it.”50

Other veterans of the period, many of whom are still actively involved with veteran’s groups,51 also referred to acquiring greater respect and self-confidence, particularly through discipline.52 Joe Meconse was born on a trap-line and found it difficult to adjust to the city in Winnipeg; the military helped him prepare for his career as corrections officer by teaching him, “discipline, to be fair but be firm...I can say but one thing about the military...I learned to survive. I learned what life is all about and my experience in the military [helped me] to be a better person... A part of me, the real me, they brought out.”53 Mary Wuttunee also remembers acquiring greater confidence during her time in the air force. “No one ever said ‘Mary you can’t work on [that machine]...’ It was: ‘Okay Mary, I’ll show you how to run this [machine].’”54

A female soldier
Corena Letendre Saulteaux from Fairford, Manitoba, went to Cambodia in 1992-1993 and helped at the orphanage. “It was quite interesting because when I had left to go to Cambodia, my daughter was not a year old.”

Post Unification: 1968-2002

Since 1968, Native issues, such as land claims, punctuated by greater displays of militancy and assertiveness, have received increased attention.55 The CF has made attempts to increase the number of Aboriginal peoples in its ranks based on mutual accommodation.56 ADefence Aboriginal Advisory Group meets monthly to offer advice on workplace issues such as “barriers to recruiting, training, developing and promotion of the Aboriginal people in the Department of National Defence.”57 The Northern Native Entry Program of 1971, expanded into the CF Aboriginal Entry Program in the late 1990s, offers Aboriginal peoples “the opportunity to explore military careers before making the commitment to join.” There has also been the Bold Eagle Initiative, dating from 1991, established to build self-confidence among Native youth through militia training within a context of First Nations cultural awareness. There is the Sergeant Tommy Prince Initiative, designed to increase numbers of Aboriginal soldiers in the infantry, and in trades to which Aboriginal tradition, culture and often life experience make them particularly well suited.58 A recent CF publication emphasized the “challenge to reconcile the requirements of a military culture with the cultural diversity found in the society that the military represents and from which it draws its members.” The author then described how the military culture differed from Aboriginal culture in Canada by being much more assertive, leadership-driven and non-egalitarian.59 This may explain why it has been particularly difficult to attract Status Indians into the CF.60

A program of significant interest is the northern Canadian Rangers. From 1942 to 1945, the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers provided a coast-watching function in anticipation of possible Japanese landings. A similar program re-emerged in 1947, this time with an emphasis on the Canadian North and with new concerns generated by the Cold War. Since the late 1960s, the program has expanded and the local geographic and other traditional indigenous knowledge and expertise of Rangers operating out of the hamlets located along the various sea-lanes constituting the Northwest Passage will remain instrumental in providing early warning of any unauthorized incursions via these routes. Rangers are enrolled as reservists, receiving annual drill, training, and other support from Regular Force personnel. They are tasked with providing early warning, territorial surveillance, ground search and rescue, and reconnaissance duties. The 3500-member Ranger program, to increase to 4800 by 2008, is largely comprised of Aboriginal Canadians who elect their own non-commissioned officers from among their membership, and, typically, appoint elders from within the community to act as advisors relative to any concerns of a spiritual or morale nature.61

For Abraham Metatawabin of Fort Albany, Ontario, becoming a Ranger allowed him to put into practice much that his father, who had fought in the First World War, had taught him.62 Alec Tuckatuck, an Inuk from Kuujjuarapik, Québec, adds that his decision to join was greatly influenced by the presence of the Canadian and American air forces in his community, stationed there as part of the DEW line. When he was six years old, in the mid 1950s, “a whole bunch of white people arrived. The community was very small...we were still a nomadic people in those days and the government started calling people to settle down here. We started having [different] foods: oranges, grapes, apples...We used to go to their lunch hall with a bag and they would fill that up with all kinds of fruits...Big planes were arriving...with new things [television sets, snowmobiles, trucks] and the community had to switch from [a traditional life] to community life.”63

Family and community still influenced Aboriginal decisions to join the CF in this period, although less than earlier. Some interviewed had strong family connections to the military, including John McLeod, son of the Memorial (Silver) Cross Mother of 1972. However, there were just as many with no family members in the armed forces.64 Also, while some noted community pride in traditional participation with the military, particularly with the Rangers, where the chance for specialized training and responsibility carries a certain amount of prestige, there were just as many who considered that their community had had no impact on their decision.65 The search for adventure was more popular, but the majority were attracted by the employment opportunities.66

An aboriginal
Alec K. Tuckatuck of Kuujjuaraapik, Québec, during a training exercise in 2000.

Although still in a minority, the numbers of those aware of racial discrimination have increased.67 Several remembered being discouraged from joining,68 but, once again, most were more comfortable in the CF than in society. Ed Borchert served 30 years with the PPCLI, seeing “both sides of the fence” as a company sergeant major, and then, after commissioning, as a major. He insists that in the CF, “if you were an Aboriginal person, or if you were a black person, or a purple person it didn’t matter. The only thing we ever cared about was were you doing your job.” At the same time, he has been involved with helping Métis veterans lobby the government to recognize “some of the inequities that occurred after our soldiers left service.”69 Peter MacGregor of Kahnawake never experienced discrimination against Aboriginal peoples – some colleagues would ask questions and he would “fill them in” – but he sensed that French-English tensions were more noticeable.70 Jocelyn Paul of Wendake, Québec remembers feeling uneasy during his first months with the R22R, during the Oka Crisis, but adds that people “quickly realized that I was doing my job” and he got along very well with his colleagues.71

A unique characteristic that Earl Charters from Coldwater, B.C., has found helpful to his participation in service life is his skill as a hoop dancer. The hoop, he says, represents a spirit, or a group of spirits and the hoop dance “the harmonious co-existence of spirits all dancing together to the beat of the powwow drum. The drumbeat is recognized as the heartbeat of Mother Earth.” He has been asked on many occasions, in Canada and abroad, to perform his ceremonial dance. Far from hiding his background to fit in, as some had done in previous periods, Charters and others, such as Dusty Bouthillette, have benefited from the recent Canadian Forces regulation permitting Aboriginal members to grow longer hair to communicate their cultural heritage. “Whenever something is said against my hair,” Earl Charters notes, “there are five others who speak in defence of my decision before I can say anything. It really has been a positive experience. My braids are finally long enough after three years growth.... I really wanted to emulate some of the best fancy and hoop dancers that wear braids.”72

Survival techniques also continued to be particularly valued among Aboriginal members. Alec Tuckatuck credits the Canadian Ranger program with developing such skills along the northern coast areas,73 and Vallee Saunders of Kuujjuaq, Québec, notes that such training was greatly appreciated in 1999 when he and other Rangers helped avalanche victims at Kangiqsualujjuaq, Québec. The avalanche of 1 January 1999 killed nine and injured 70, from a population of less than 700 people. He remembers “calling up his Rangers to be ready” and 11 of the 14 Nunavik Patrols responded to the emergency. The people at Kangiqsualujjuaq “were really glad to see us, to receive fresh hands...most of them were really exhausted.”74

With career motivations being the main reason for joining the CF, it is not surprising that many focus on education and training as the most important areas in which they have been helped.75 Also high on the list of advantages of participation are feelings related to prestige and self-confidence – despite this rarely being mentioned as a motivation for joining. Gerard Joe from Conne River, Newfoundland believes that if young people knew just how rewarding being in the military can be, there would be more recruits. He credits the army with helping him develop a whole new identity and teaching him how to be part of a team.76 Ukjese van Kampen of Whitehorse agrees that the military provided an identity. “When I was growing up in the Yukon, I did not really have a sense of what type of First Nations [group I belonged to]. Later I became ashamed that I had white blood in me, that I wasn’t a pure Indian...Then I went into the army. I now belonged to a tribe, 2RCR... We had regalia (uniforms), we had ritual, and we were proud to belong to the regiment. It was as if I now had a sense of belonging. I was part of a tribe that had no doubts of who they were.”77

In answer to the question of how the recent CF efforts have helped attract or retain Aboriginal members, the feedback has been positive. Two did refer to problems and the need to provide more support. Victor Lyall, an Inuit from Labrador, remarked: “People coming from smaller communities might be a little more timid and quiet.” Although he appreciated the pre-enrolment training sessions, after the course, “there was never contact from that department. Once you signed those papers and then went through there wasn’t any real check back done to see how you were doing.”78 Frank Michon spent time in Alert and agreed on the need for closer follow-up. “They had two young Inuits working in the kitchen...this was when they were trying to get young native people into the military. They were going about it the wrong way but they were trying...”79 However, many others praised the efforts of the CF, particularly in the North with the Rangers program.80 In the West, Howard Anderson, Grand Chief of the Saskatchewan First Nations Veterans, adds that the kids come out of the Bold Eagle Program “with their heads up in the air, and they are proud as hell.”81

An aboriginal

DND photo ISD01-4149

Earl Charters in the Arabian Gulf on HMCS Winnipeg during Operation Augmentation, May 2001.


Over three periods from 1939 to 2002, many aspects of the Aboriginal perception of participation in the Armed Forces have changed, while others have remained constant. On the motivation for enlisting, those going to war in the early period were the only ones to volunteer that they were “following” friends or defending an important cause. Those joining in recent years emphasize adventure and employment. What has not changed is the strong influence of community members on their decision to join. None mentioned being attracted by recruiting campaigns, but the presence of the military, such as through parades and disaster relief operations, or through the proximity of certain bases, was a very strong influence in all periods.

The perception of racism in the military is more of a concern today, although it actually appears to have been more widespread during earlier periods. Throughout the century, the preference among Aboriginal people for greater equality among the ranks has persisted, making adaptation to the military a challenge. However, what has also continued is the view that they are treated better in the military than in Canadian society.

On the question of how their background helped participation, the more recent group was more likely to emphasize Aboriginal culture and to take pride in their heritage. Certainly, earlier groups referred to advantages of their background for employment as snipers, as scouts, and during survival activities, but seemed to value being treated equally more than having their distinctiveness recognized. What has not changed is the strong awareness of their culture as an advantage in many situations.

Finally, replies as to how the Canadian military affected their lives have evolved from a focus on adventure – often disturbing, life-changing wartime episodes – to the 1950s and 1960s focus on discipline, to the post-1968 focus on training and education. Through these very different experiences there has been continuity in the view that their time in the military was worthwhile and enjoyable.82

CMJ Logo

Dr. John MacFarlane is a historian with the Directorate of History and Heritage. John Moses is a historian with the Museum of Civilization.


  1. We thank Brereton Greenhous, Ken Reynolds and Paul Lansey for improving drafts of this article.
  2. Henry David Thoreau, Walden: or, Life in the Woods, (Mt. Vernon, NY: Peter Pauper Press, 1956 ).
  3. N.F. Dreisziger, ed., Ethnic Armies: Polyethnic Armed Forces from the Time of the Habsburgs to the Age of the Superpowers, (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1990).
  4. Report, Cross-Cultural/Multicultural Associates Inc, “A Conceptual Framework for Achieving Diversity and Equity in the Canadian Forces,” (April 1997), pp. 2, 9. Department of National Defence, Employment Equity: Managing Diversity, Building Partnership, (Ottawa: Department of National Defence [DND]), 1995).
  5. CFAEP information, at <www.dnd.ca>. Also Henry McCue, Strengthening Relationships Between the Canadian Forces and Aboriginal People, (Ottawa: DND, 2000).
  6. On individual rights and cultural demands of groups see Joel Balkan, Just Words: Constitutional Rights and Social Wrongs, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997), pp. 118-33.
  7. Interviews (conducted July 2001 – July 2002) are at the Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH) of DND. Friendship centers, veterans’ groups and informal contacts helped select interviewees who are perhaps not the Aboriginal people most involved with the Canadian Forces, but are known in their communities. Also, the number of 60 interviews is too small to be exhaustive but it provides an idea of dominant perceptions.
  8. Fred Gaffen, Forgotten Soldiers, (Penticton, BC: Theytus Books, 1985); Janice Summerby, Native Soldiers, Foreign Battlefields, (Ottawa: Veterans Affairs, 1993); John Moses, “Aboriginal Participation in Canadian Military Service,” in TheArmy Doctrine and Training Bulletin, Vol. 3, No. 3, Fall 2000; Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) (Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 1997); Olive Dickason, Canada’s First Nations, (Toronto: McClelland, 1992), Remembrances: Métis Veterans, (Regina: Gabriel Dumont Institute, 1997). R. Scott Sheffield, The Red Man’s on the Warpath: The Image of the “Indian” and the Second World War, (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2004).
  9. National Archives of Canada (NAC), RG24 Vol. 1221, File HQ 593-1-7, in Summerby, Native Soldiers, p. 6. Many of them served in the 107th and 114th Battalions.
  10. James Dempsey, “Persistence of a Warrior Ethic Among the Plains Indians,” in Alberta History, Vol. 36, No. 1, Winter 1988. Gaffen, Forgotten Soldiers, p.15.
  11. Gaffen, Forgotten Soldiers, p. 15. Also L. James Dempsey, Warriors of the King: Prairie Indians in World War I, (Regina: University of Regina, 1999).
  12. Duncan Campbell Scott, “The Canadian Indians and the Great World War,” in Canada in the Great World War, vol. 3: Guarding the Channel Ports, (Toronto: United, 1919), p. 285.
  13. Gaffen, Forgotten Soldiers, pp. 35-7.
  14. Indian enlistments by province (with total native population in brackets): NS, 117 (2364); NB, 203 (2047); PEI, 27 (266); QC, 316 (15,182); ON, 1324 (32,421); MB, 175 (15,892); SK, 443 (14,158); AB, 144 (12,754); BC, 334 (25,515); YK, 7 (1531); NWT, 0 (3816). Ibid.
  15. Within the 1911 Census, 105,611 or 1.5 per cent of Canadians (7,206,643) were listed as Indian. In 1941 it was 160,937 or 1.4 per cent of 11,506,655. There were also 35,416 Métis. The Annual Report for the Department of Indian Affairs, March 1919, estimated 35 per cent of Indian males of military age had applied.
  16. NAC, MG27IIIB14, General Laflèche papers Letter from the Six Nations outlines grievances. RCAP, Vol. 12, Chapter 4.1.
  17. N.F. Dreisziger, “The Rise of a Bureaucracy for Multiculturalism: The Origins of the Nationalities Branch, 1939-1941,” in On Guard for Thee: War, Ethnicity, and the Canadian State, 1939-1945, N. Hillmer, B. Kordan and L. Luciuk eds., (Ottawa: Canadian Committee for the History of the Second World War, 1988), p.1. Sheffield, The Red Man’s on the Warpath.
  18. Summerby, Native Soldiers, p. 20, RCAP, Vol. 12, Chapter 4.1. One interviewee, David Moses, served in the air force.
  19. DHH Interview, Henry Beaudry.
  20. Of 20 interviewees, 11 replied that their father or many relatives had served, four replied that some had served and five had no family connection. Eleven felt encouraged, two discouraged and seven had not been affected. Nine indicated that they were following others. All answers were spontaneous – no list of possibilities was suggested.
  21. DHH Interview, Elmer Sinclair.
  22. Six replied that there was racism in Canada, five that there was some discrimination.
  23. DHH Interview, Howard Anderson.
  24. DHH Interview, Sam Sinclair.
  25. DHH Interview, Russell Modeste.
  26. DHH Interview, Elmer Sinclair.
  27. DHH Interview, Lawrence Martin.
  28. DHH Interview, Sydney Gordon. Richard Parker also fought in Italy as described in Thinking, (Vancouver: Trafford, 2000).
  29. DHH Interview, Charles Bird.
  30. DHH Interviews, Irene Hoff and Roger Ouimet
  31. Only Fernand Lainé described the experience as negative. His brother J.B. and Stuart Beauvais were also conscripted.
  32. Two exceptions were J.B. and Fernand Lainé. In addition to four referring to greater respect and three to education, one mentioned discipline, one that he became more responsible, and one that his eyes were opened to the world.
  33. RCAP, Vol. 12, Chapters 4.1 and 4.3, 4.5, 5.1 and 5.3. Gaffen, Forgotten Soldiers, pp.72, 79.
  34. In 1951 there were 165,607 people identifying themselves as Indians, or 1.2 per cent of the Canadian population. Summerby, Native Soldiers, pp. 31-33.
  35. Five Korean veterans referred to a cause, two to following friends or family members and three to employment. One referred to adventure. Among the other nine recruits in this period, four referred to employment, three to adventure and one joined for a cause.
  36. DHH Interview, Robert Carriere.
  37. DHH Interview, Harvey Horlock.
  38. DHH Interview, Louis Schmidt.
  39. DHH Interview, Fred Young.
  40. DHH Interview, Bill Lafferty.
  41. DHH Interview, Russ Moses.
  42. Among the Korean veterans, none replied yes, two remembered some racism and eight replied none at all. As for the others, three replied yes and six none at all.
  43. DHH Interview, Joe John Sanipass.
  44. Of the eleven Korean veterans, five perceived clear signs of racism in Canadian society, two some racism, and one none at all. Of the other nine, the corresponding numbers were five, one and one.
  45. DHH Interview, Victor Flett.
  46. DHH Interview, Stephen Simon.
  47. DHH Interview, Lafferty.
  48. DHH Interview, Russell Piché.
  49. DHH Interview, Michael Sanipass.
  50. DHH Interview, Wes Whitford.
  51. DHH Interviews, Len Desjarlais, Bob Ducharme, Bob Rogers and Joe Mercredi.
  52. In reply as to how the military helped them, both groups had three people focus on greater discipline. Two Korean veterans referred to education, one to respect, and one to confidence. One of the other veterans referred to education, one to respect, two to confidence and one to a better understanding of the world.
  53. DHH, Interview Joe Meconse.
  54. DHH, Interview Mary Wuttunee.
  55. Sally Weaver, Making Canadian Indian Policy: The Hidden Agenda, 1968-1970, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1981).
  56. Within the 1996 Canadian Census, 799,010 individuals identified themselves as Aboriginal peoples, or 2.8 per cent of the 28,528,125 population. This included 529,040 Indians living on and off reserves; 204,115 Métis and 40,220 Inuits, of which 25,640 had double identities. 1,101,960 individuals declared Aboriginal origin or ancestry. The percentage of Aboriginals in the CF was as follows: 1.5 per cent of the Regular Force, 1.0 per cent of the Primary Reserves and 1.3 per cent of the total, not including the Rangers. Within the 2001 Census, 976,305 individuals identified themselves as Aboriginal peoples, or 3.3 per cent of the population. This included 608,050 Indians living on and off reserves; 292,310 Métis and 45,070 Inuits (30,080 had double identity). 1,319,890 individuals declared Aboriginal origin or ancestry. The percentage in the CF was: 2.3 per cent of the Regular Force, 1.8 per cent of the Primary Reserves and 3.4 per cent of the total, including the Rangers.
  57. D Strat HR News, Vol. 2, 2003. The Advisory Group Officer is Ms. Brenda Cote. See also MacLaren and Davis, 2001, and D Strat HR RN 04/02, “The Canadian Forces as a career of Choice for Aboriginal Canadians. A Strategy for 2020.”
  58. See L. Beebe, “A Dream Come True,” Sentinel, Vol. 27, No. 6, p. 22. Quotation is from DND internet site: CFAEP.
  59. McCue, Strengthening Relationships, pp. 32-33.
  60. Ibid., p. 28: There are more Status Aboriginal people in Canada, but the CF has only 130 Status and 1170 non-Status Aboriginal members.
  61. There are five patrol groups: 1CRPG (58 patrols in the Far North); 2CRPG (19 patrols in Northern Québec); 3CRPG (nine patrols in Northern Ontario); 4CRGP (27 patrols on the Pacific Coast); and 5CRPG (28 patrols in Newfoundland and Labrador).
  62. DHH Interview, A. Metatawabin.
  63. DHH Interview, Alec Tuckatuck.
  64. Six had many relatives in the Armed Forces, four had some members while 10 had none.
  65. While only one felt discouraged by his community to join, ten felt no pressure and nine felt encouraged.
  66. Twelve of the 20 replied that they joined for the work, five for adventure, two for the prestige and one for a cause.
  67. Three replied yes, five that there was some racism and 10 that there was none. See also the report by Cross-Cultural/Multicultural Associates Inc. “Canadian Forces Diversity Project: Baseline Study,” (February 1997), p. 2. DHH Interview, Mel Swann.
  68. DHH Interviews: Alan Knockwood from Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. Also Coreena Letendre. Ernest Nadjiwan.
  69. DHH Interview, Ed Borchert.
  70. DHH Interview, Peter MacGregor.
  71. DHH Interview, Jocelyn Paul.
  72. DHH Interview, Earl Charters.
  73. DHH Interview, Alec Tuckatuck.
  74. DHH Interview, Vallee Saunders.
  75. Six answered that training and education had been most helpful, while four referred to greater respect, three to increased self-confidence and three to discipline.
  76. DHH Interview, Gerard Joe.
  77. DHH Interview, Ukjese van Kampen.
  78. DHH Interview, Victor Lyall.
  79. DHH Interview, Frank Michon.
  80. DHH Interview, Solomon Curley.
  81. DHH Interview, Howard Anderson.
  82. The impressions of those agreeing to be interviewed would be more favourable than those who refused.