Russ Moses, Canada, Sergeant Tommy Prince discussed on Unreserved



Sergeant Tommy prince recently received another honor. Canada post issued a stamp with Tommy and his uniform and the northern lights dancing above him. This is unreserved on CBC radio one serious examined native voice one. I'm Rosanna dear child. Today we are honoring the tremendous role indigenous soldiers played as allies to Canada. Even though indigenous people across Canada were being denied rights as citizens during the great wars, many still chose to stand with The Crown. John Moses knows the minds and hearts of indigenous soldiers on a personal and historical level. He comes from a long line of residential school survivors and veterans. John himself served with the Canadian armed forces for 5 years and co authored a commemorative history of Aboriginal people in the Canadian military. He is a member of the Delaware and upper Mohawk bands from the 6 nations of the grand river territory. Thank you so much for joining me today, John. Well, thank you. I appreciate the opportunity. Can you tell me about some of your family members who served in the military? Well, on both sides of the family, there have been military service members on my father's side of the family on the Moses side of the family. We certainly had members who served in Canada's two largely indigenous formations of the First World War of the great war on my mother's side of the family. My maternal grandmother Edith Anderson Ventura has been recognized as the first credentialed registered nurse of indigenous ancestry as a young woman at 6 nations she had wanted to be a registered nurse, but unfortunately because of Indian act, restrictions were era. She wasn't able to pursue her training in Canada without being in danger of losing her band membership in legal status. So her way around that was to actually undertake her nurses training in New York City beyond the gaze of the local Indian agent at 6 nations and she was actually living and working as a public health nurse in New York City when the Americans entered the First World War in 1917. So she volunteered for duty as a nursing sister with the U.S. Army nurse corps of the American expeditionary force. She's recognized as a pioneer of indigenous healthcare in this country. We had other family members who served during the Second World War, my father, the late Russ Moses, who was a naval veteran of the Korean War and has served in the air force during the Cold War. Let's focus on your grandfather's experience overseas. Which had some serious implications for your father and aunts. What happened to them? My own father's situation. He and his siblings were raised at the Mohawk institute Indian residential school, the infamous mushroom in branford from 1942 until 1947. That was my father Russ Moses and there were actually three generations of the Moses family that were raised at the Mohawk institute at the mushroom, my father Russ was there in the 1940s, his father, my grandfather, Ted Moses, was raised there during the years of the First World War and my great grandfather Nelson Moses was raised there even earlier in the 1880s so that makes me the first generation after three. That wasn't raised at the mushroom, the mushroom, of course. Closed its doors as a residential school in 1970, but there were many unanticipated outcomes to military service on the indigenous home front, quite aside from the possibility of death or injury for those who were serving in uniform at the front lines. They're all sorts of implications on the indigenous home front as well. So there were challenges to traditional political authority, there was loss or erosion to the Indian reserve land based, there was marital and family breakdown as parents and elder siblings and other role models departed for their own military service or civilian wartime employment with corresponding increase in the number of indigenous children who wound up in residential schools during wartime, which is sort of an under and under represented an under researched aspect of the residential school experience in Canadian history. Absolutely. Let's unpack that a little bit more. This connection between residential schools and enlisting because it's not something that's talked about very much. Certainly even under normal peacetime conditions, the very austere living conditions at the residential schools, the very strict discipline was akin to military service anyways, so that transition from residential school attendance to later military service was not a huge, a huge transition to undertake. As you mentioned, your father fought in the Korean War. What did he tell you about his reasons for joining the military? Well, he had been at the marshal under exceptionally severe wartime and post war conditions from 1942 until 19 47. His residential school experience was marked by severe discipline Melanie nutrition overwork and a lack of proper clothing. By the time he left the residential school, I think, in many ways, both figuratively and literally he wanted to put as much distance as he could between himself and the 6 nations community and the mushroom and his way up and out of that circumstance was to join the Royal Canadian navy. And yeah, he and he joined during the days of Canada's big ship navy not too many years after the Second World War when Canada still had quite a large navy and it was indeed possible to join the navy and see the world. So I think that was his that was his intention and that's what he did. So those reasons being he wanted to leave the residential school. He was very used to this kind of regimented way of life and this gave him an opportunity to travel. Yeah, you know, in a sense, I think he wanted to replace old memories with new memories, even if that included going to war. And he always, you know, commented that just on a material level, life in the navy, notwithstanding the discipline and notwithstanding the wartime environment, the clothing was better in the food was better and the discipline was less severe in the navy than it had been in the residential schools, so I think that that

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