Canadian Government, Nations Reserve, Grand River discussed on Unreserved



Of course, First Nations people were considered wards under the Indian act, which essentially viewed as minors, couldn't vote, didn't have the legal authority to enter into contracts. So how did all of that affect first nation's ability to people ability to enlist? Well, again, going back to the 6 nations of the grand river and like I can't claim to speak on behalf of all groups across all parts of the country. So I'll just keep it, you know, I'll keep it confined to my own reserve at 6 nations in my own family's experience on both sides of the family. Yes, certainly as of 1914 under the Indian act status Indian registered band members were viewed as legal miners for several months following the outbreak of the war amongst Canadian government officials themselves and military recruiters there were questions as to whether or not Indians could even be enlisted and if they were to be enlisted should they serve in all Indian units or should they serve in integrated units as it finally transpired. There were two largely indigenous formations of the great war of the 107th timberwolf battalion that was recruited in and around Winnipeg and the 114th battalion Brock's rangers that was recruited in and around branford Ontario, including the 6 nations reserve. None of those troops lost their Indian status upon enlistment. Oh. I think in some other areas of the country, depending upon the information that the military recruiters had at hand themselves, they were under the belief and they told continual applicants themselves that you know, in order to receive your veterans benefits, veterans benefits can only be made payable to Canadian citizens. So to the extent that you're a status Indian registered band member and do not yet enjoy the full benefits of Canadian citizenship, if you're expecting to receive any sort of benefits following the return to peace time, it will be necessary that you become enfranchised and become a Canadian citizen in that sense. So apparently that indeed did happen with some individuals in some parts of the country. They were given false information, but the more than 306 nations band members who volunteered to serve and the 292 who finally shipped overseas. None of them were obliged to enfranchise in order to enlist the enlisted in their respective units and they returned retained their legal status and band membership at the same time. Back here in Canada, meanwhile, indigenous particularly First Nations folks were not being treated very well. Was there a distinction between the soldiers in terms of indigenous non indigenous? This seems to be another sort of a reality that another experience that many extended families share which are stories of family members having returned from overseas, having returned from wartime service and yet within Canadian borders being treated once again as second class citizens or worse and in fact my father was interviewed once concerning an experience of his own where he was denied entry into a bar and hagersville, which is a small town outside the 6 nations, and he was in naval uniform. And denied service, you know, they knew he was from the reserve and said, we're sorry, but we can't serve you here. And so that was, again, not something unique to our family. When I realized, of course, many indigenous families across the country have similar to our stories to tell. And of course, for the audience, we are talking about the first half of the 20th century First Nations were not treated as citizens in Canada. They couldn't vote until 1960. Why would they join the military to fight for a country that did not see the miss equals? It varied according to the conflict and it varied from Indian reserve community to Indian reserve. I don't want to give any sort of impression that indigenous people served out of some sort of quaint or naive sense of subservience to the British crown or to the king or queen is the case may be the issue of whether or not to serve was hugely divisive and, you know, I think if there's one generalization that can be made, is that generally speaking, indigenous people supported the continuity of crown government so long as that crown government continued to recognize and uphold Aboriginal and treaty rights in return. The Crown was under threat, and so too was the treaty relationship under threat and that being the case First Nations people felt obliged to protect the well-being of the treaty relationship. Yeah. Well, thank you so much for your time today, John. And of course for your service. Well, thank you. John Moses is a veteran and author, and a member of the Delaware and upper Mohawk bands from the 6 nations of the grand river territory. You're listening to unreserved on CBC radio one SiriusXM and native voice one Amazon a dear child. Today, indigenous veterans who fought for Canada and fought to protect the treaties. Names like sergeant Tommy prince and Francis pegahmagabow are remembered and celebrated. While many others, we are still rediscovering. After decades lie in unmarked graves, the names of 8 indigenous veterans are now etched in stone. Earlier this year, the mohawks of the bay of quinte found and marked their resting place and are taking action to make sure the soldiers are never forgotten again. Donald miracle is chief of the tie and naga Mohawk council. Chief miracle, welcome to the show. Good afternoon. summer, you helped mark those 8 graves with the names of veterans from your community. Would you take a moment with us to read the names of the men you now have markers for? Yes, the last postpone of veterans affairs saw installed a 5 markers at Christchurch. It's majesty's chapel royal of the Mohawk, our National Historic Site. And the veterans were Alfred miracle, Charles Clinton branch, Anthony miracle, and Joseph corby at the all saint cemetery to his Burton Brant, and William Brant, who served under the name Cyril, and in the Mohawk Pentecostal cemetery, there is Francis Randall brand. And why is it important for us to remember those men by name? Well, I think in all of the cemeteries that are in Canada, there are last post markers for veterans who are given their lives in service to their community. And the graves are certainly marked in the war graves in Europe. And so this is catching up to what needs to be done here in Canada for the indigenous people. And I'm sure that this situation is just on many other First Nations where there are veterans that have their grades have been forgotten. What would have prevented these veterans from having headstones in the first place? Well, sometimes the veterans affairs, if they paid for the entire cost of the funeral, then they would mark the grave. I think it was a policy and a communication problem. The historically, but if the family let's say bought the casket for their long run and then because the family had paid for some of the veterans repairs would pay for none of it. They'd have to pay for the whole thing. That was their policy, but I'm happy to see that there are becoming more flexible in their policy because it's important to honor people who served and people who given their lives for the freedom and peace that people oftentimes in this country take for granted. It was purchased at a very high cost of human life. How challenging it was it to track down the right information about these graves so that you

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