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Why some Indigenous people chose to go to war for Canada – Folio

by ahnationtalk on November 8, 2019163 Views

November 08 2019

On National Aboriginal Veterans Day, two U of A researchers provide perspective on the reasons more than 7,000 Indigenous people in Canada served in two world wars and the Korean conflict.

For many of the more than 7,000 Indigenous people in Canada who served in the First World War, Second World War and Korean War, enlisting in the military was a chance to escape colonial constraints and reclaim their warrior heritage, according to two University of Alberta researchers.

“Each Indigenous group has their own unique stories of the war and unique interactions with local officials. And individuals had their own unique reasons for signing up,” said post-doctoral researcher Will Pratt, who studies how the First World War affected the 29 men from the Treaty 7 region in southern Alberta who served in the conflict. “I’m trying to disentangle them from the national narrative.”

According to Pratt, the Department of Indian Affairs and militia were uncertain about whether they were actively going to recruit Indigenous soldiers for the Great War—at first, the official policy was that they would not.

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