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The education team at The Foundation will be putting together educational blog posts each month. These are curated by our team of interpreters to inspire, educate and invoke a sense of community through military education. 

  • 2021-07-05 13:12 | Deleted user
     

    No. 2 Construction Battalion (courtesy Museum Windsor/P6110)

    When war broke out in 1914 enlistment offices were flooded by young men wanting to join the war. Like many other Canadians, Black Canadians felt it was their patriotic duty to fight for their country. Many quit their jobs in order to enlist in the Canadian Armed Forces, but many would be turned away. Enlistment officers chose not to take these men into their divisions. Black Canadians would be turned away and the reasons they were rejected from services had deep roots in racial prejudice.

    Enlisting into the Canadian Military meant so much more than fighting for the Commonwealth to Black Canadian’s. The discrimination they faced when not allowed to enlist in the Expeditionary Force demonstrated there was anti-Black sentiment within Canada. It became a civil rights issue and sparked activism both within and outside the community around the inclusivity of the Canadian Military. It became clear that this was going to be “a white man’s war.” Newspaper articles were created to address the prejudice sentiment that was happening in the military against Black Canadians. The Canadian Observer was an example of an article that addressed the discrimination happening in the military.  At this time Canada did control the press during wartime and suppressed any anti-war publications but it was poorly managed by federal and provincial authorities.

     
    “We Want a Revolution of Thought by Our People.” Canadian Observer, October 23, 1915. Source: Multicultural History Society of Ontario, Black Collection, 934 [Microfilm].

    The Observer bridged the conversation about the lack of progress in Canada in regard to its inclusivity as a collective race. It asked directed questions to the broader public and helped seize the frustration Black Canadians were having with their current experiences. The Observer openly asked in 1914 “Why are we not making the progress we should?” The article encouraged response because in order to get answers they needed to see how the broader public felt about these questions. The questions in the Observer can still be asked today. These are timeless questions that society continually has to ask themselves.

    A lot of Canadians did not see Canada as a racist nation that promoted the country as a white man’s country. However, Canada still participated in divisive practices like segregation within its communities. Black people were excluded from public spaces like restaurants, pools, skating rinks, and pubs. These were some of the anti-Black sentiments that were seen in Canadian society in the 1910s. There were not many conversations happening about the racism because it went against Underground Railway heritage. The war only exacerbated the existing racial tension that pre-existed this moment, but it opened up the conversation about this sentiment. The war was an opportunity for Black Canadians to open up the conversation and ask the public why they were not good enough to fight in their war.

    The army did not have a rule saying that Black Canadians could not enlist in the army. However, it was up to the Commanding Officers who they accepted and who they turned away and Headquarters does not interfere with their decision. Recruitment Commanding Officers would use excuses to why they turned away physically healthy Black men by saying they did not want their fine recruits to have to consort with Black men (1). Black Canadians were also turned away because their hygiene was attacked, and it was perceived that these men had poor hygiene. Recruitment Officers believed if they let Black men enlist then white men would not want to enlist. This was a moment when a lot of Black Canadians recognized that this was a “white mans war.” However, many did not stop trying to fight overseas just because they were turned away the first time. Many of these men left their jobs to enlist and were persistent to serve their country and receive full recognition as an equal citizen.

    You might be wondering what came out of this activism. In 1916 the No. 2 Construction Battalion was formed and was the first large Black military unit in Canadian history. The No. 2 Construction Battalion was a non-combated battalion and acted in a support role where they helped provide lumber to maintain the trenches on the front line and also constructed roads and railways. Even though this battalion was not acting in a combative role they still were a valuable participant in the war exerting their patriotic duty as Canadians. The formation of this battalion emerged out of the tarnation and determination of Black Canadians and their activism through the press and consistent persistence.

    The creation of No. 2 Construction Battalion did not end the discrimination Black Canadians faced in the military. The battalion did offer them an opportunity to express their Patriotism to their country and demonstrate their worth as equal citizens. Even though they were a valuable force and contributed greatly to the war effort upon returning home to Canada many Veterans faced discrimination still.

    (1) Shaw, “’Most Anxious to Serve their King and Country,’” 552.

    (2) Veterans Affairs Canada. “Black Canadians in uniform- a proud tradition”

    Bibliography

    Foyn, Sean Flynn. “The Underside of Glory: AfriCanadian Enlistment in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1917.” M.A. Thesis, University of Ottawa, 2000.

    Shadd, Adrienne L. The Journey from Tollgate to Parkway: African Canadians in Hamilton. Toronto: Natural Heritage Book, 2010.

    Shaw, Melissa N. “’Most Anxious to Serve their King and Country’: Black Canadians’ Fight to Enlist in WWI and emerging Race Consciousness in Ontario, 1914-1919.” Social History XLIX, no 100 (2016): 543-580.

    Wilson, Barbara M. “Black Volunteers in the First World War.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, last modified April 27, 2018. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/black-volunteers-in-the-first-world-war.

    Veterans Affairs Canada. “Black Canadians in uniform- a proud tradition.” https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/people-and-stories/black-canadians 


  • 2021-06-06 11:02 | Anonymous
     

    "B" Company, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, January 1944.


    On June 5th, 1944, many soldiers anxiously awaiting their deployment over enemy lines. The development of aviation made it possible to have soldiers flown in over the enemy. Planes were crowded with soldiers and equipment. Soldiers did not have much to hold onto in the back of the aircraft. As soon as the coast of Normandy became visible, so did the artillery fire on the airplanes. The plane took evasive maneuvers to avoid being hit. Men were falling out of the aircraft too soon, chaos ensued. The plane's evasive maneuvers also meant that the aircraft was not on the designated drop zones. When the red light came on, the soldiers could not think about anything other than to escape the death trap. When the Greenlight flashed to jump, so activated the training they received months prior.


    Jump training from the 75-meter tower at Fort Benning, Georgia, 12 March, 1943. Photo by Ed. Smith.
    Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-141396


    The 1st Canadians Parachute Battalion was established on July 1st, 1942, and was made up of an elite unit of men. Paratroopers were tasked with putting themselves in dangerous scenarios because their job was to be behind enemy lines. When the paratroopers made their descent to land, they became infantry soldiers. However, these airborne forces were not like other infantry but were highly trained soldiers with a unique set of skills.

    Paratroopers would undergo a four-week-long training programme. These recruits would have to build physical and mental stamina as they could be behind enemy lines for days without relief. They were then trained how to use the equipment and different jumping techniques. The recruits would jump out of a 10-meter tower and then move to a 75-meter tower. Finally, the recruits would have to jump from an airplane five times successfully. The training prepared them for their descent from the aircraft and how to organize themselves once on the ground.

    The soldiers jumped out of the planes that night; it was not like any training they had received. Despite all their training, they could not have been prepared for the chaos that was their deployment that night. When the green light went off, they all made the irrevocable decision to jump, and there was no going back.

    As the paratroopers made their descent, they were trying to navigate their landing in the dark. Many would die or would sustain severe injuries. The Germans had flooded fields to discourage planes from landing in the areas. Nevertheless, if a paratrooper landed in one of these fields, the weight of the equipment could hold them down, and they would drown. There was also the hazard of trees, and many soldiers who landed in trees became severely injured or died. Even if you managed to land safely, this did not mean you were safe. There were about 82 paratroopers who got captured by the Germans upon their landing and became prisoners of war.

     

    Mass drop of the 1st Battalion from Douglas Dakota aircrafts, Salisbury Plain, England, February 6th, 1944.

    Photo by Ed. Smith. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA- 132785


    Many paratroopers became lost as the key navigation system, the "Eureka" homing beacons, failed to perform correctly. Because of the chaos of the deployment, many soldiers found themselves alone and lost. However, the Germans were also unable to confirm the actual drop zone of the troops, and German commanders held off on deploying their reserve units for many hours. Dazed and confused, these soldiers got it together in the chaos and managed to collect themselves, get organized and activate their unique skill sets. Canadian Paratroopers were able to recuperate and reassemble with their units if they could. Despite every obstacle put in the paratrooper's path, the battalion accomplished all its assigned D-Day objectives.

    There were about 541 paratroopers that jumped into Normandy. There was a large number of soldiers that went missing after they jumped. Paratroopers who landed far from the drop zone and sustained severe injuries would not be found soon enough and would die alone. Paratroopers experimented with a new kind of warfare. D-Day demonstrated that airborne soldiers could play a significant role in modern warfare. Many veterans were proud to be a part of the 1st Canadian Paratrooper Battalion as their overall efforts helped to distract and weaken the German defences allowing the landing forces on the beaches a better chance of success.

    Post by Alexandra Lyons

    Bibliography 

    Horne, Bernd and Wyczynski, Michel. “A Most Irrevocable Step: Canadian Paratroopers on D-Day, The first 24 hours, 5-6 June 1944.” Canadian Military History 13, 3 (2004): 15-32.

    “Canada In the Second Word War: 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion.” Juno Beach Centre. https://www.junobeach.org/canada-in-wwii/articles/1st-canadian-parachute-battalion/.

    Horn, Bernd and Wyczynski, Micheal. Paras Versus the Reich: Canada’s Paratroopers at War, 1942-45. Toronto: The Dundurn Group, 2003


  • 2021-05-20 11:57 | Deleted user
     
     
     (Nikkei National Museum, A Street View of Tashme, BC, 1942, Alex Eastwood collection, 1994.69.4.27)


    Canada has a historical legacy in anti-Asian sentiment and is especially prevalent on the West Coast in British Columbia. Before 1942 about 95 percent of the Japanese population in Canada lived in British Columbia, and more than 75 percent were citizens. However, by the end of 1942, there were no Japanese Canadians within a 100-mile radius of the west coastal line. What changed? Under the Wars Measures Act, the Canadian government forcibly uprooted Japanese Canadians from their homes, families, and communities. In 1942, Japanese Canadians were considered enemy aliens when they were required to register with the government.

    There was little evidence actually to suggest these Japanese Canadians were enemy aliens. White British Columbian’s fear drove their hate, which triggered the governments’ reaction displacing 21,000 Japanese Canadians in the Second World War. The government chose to remove Japanese Canadians from the West Coast and forcibly put them in internment camps, separating families. 

    Imagine being told you have 24 hours to pack your life into 150 pounds per adult, and your children could only pack 75 pounds each. You do not know where you are going, how long you will be gone for, what will happen to the things you leave behind. You do not even have a grasp on the essentials you need to bring. Imagine having to explain what was happening to your children even though you were just as confused as them. Many Japanese women and men in 1942 did not have to imagine this scenario because they lived it. 


     

    (Nikkei National Museum, Building K, Men’s Dormitory – (Formerly Forum); Hastings Park, Vancouver, BC, Alex Eastwood collection, 1942, 1994.69.3.18)



    Japanese families were sent to Hasting Park Manning Pool, a fairground for agricultural exhibitions, and converted from animal use to human use in 7 days. The women and children were separated from the men and boys over the age of 12. Families were separated from one another, with no idea what was going on and what would happen to them. All this is going on, and the smell of livestock overwhelming. 


    (Nikkei National Museum, Mrs Murako Yoshida and children family portrait in April; Vancouver, BC, 1942, Marina Yoshida collection, 2020.1.1.1.1)


    On March 25, 1942, the first round of men received orders to leave their families and start working on road camps, and about 100 men refused and instead were sent to Prisoner of war camp. Japanese women were not told about the whereabouts of their husbands. Despite it being illegal for Japanese people to own cameras, the chaos of the mass removal of Japanese people meant that officials did not thoroughly investigate their belongings. Mothers would sit with their children for portraits. They would send a copy to their absent husbands and other family members, knowing there was the possibility they would never see their family again. 

    The majority of Japanese Canadians, about 12,000, would be sent to “interior housing centers” where these families wintered in simple un-insulated stud walls built out of greenwood and a single sheet of tar paper to protect from the elements. The cabins had greenwood to construct beds and tables and one stove. Once in the Camos nothing was provided for, prisoners had to provide themselves with food, clothing and education.

    On January 19, 1943, all Japanese property was liquidated, and these funds would go towards Japanese inmates to pay their way in their interment. The government would force the sale of 950 fishing boats several months after Ottawa gave the orders to remove Japanese Canadians from the West Coast. Under the Veterans Land Act, the Director of Soldiers Settlement had the right to purchase or lease Japanese farms without consulting the owners and did so at rock bottom prices. 




    (Nikkei National Museum, A Portrait of Women and Children in an Internment Camp Home; Tashme, BC, 1942, Canadian Centennial Project fonds, 2010.23.2.4.724)


    Japanese Canadians did not just take the abuse from the government and passively stand by. But the government separated families, which made it hard for families to organize against the government for the human rights that were being violated. However, Japanese inmates found other ways like forming committees. These committees petitioned for materials to winterize the cabins, install running water and electricity, release the interned men, improve recreational facilities, and provide education to their children. Religious groups stepped in to help support these communities imprisoned in internment camps and aid in various ways, most importantly, education. 

     
     (Nikkei National Museum, Outdoor Portrait of a Group of People in a Field of Sugar Beets with Farming Tools at Tully’s Farm, Manitoba, 1944, Canadian Centennial Project founds, 2010.23.2.4.139)


    Around 3,500 Japanese Canadians signed contracts to work on sugar beet farms. They avoided Hasting Park and were separated from their husbands, sons, and brothers by doing hard labour on sugar beet farms in Alberta and Manitoba. Reality quickly put the promise of decent housing and a minimal amount of freedom to bed. The families were expected to live in chicken coops or uninsulated granaries. They washed and drank from alkaline water and arrogation ditches and perform labour far more strenuous than they were used to on their fruit farms. To make matters worse, some of the farmers, because of Japanese Canadian’s status as enemy aliens, treated them as slave labour and exploited them.  

    After the war the Government of Canada pursued an aggressive deportation policy, which would exile 4,000 internees to Japan, the vast majority against their wishes. Most people who were forced to return to Japan were born in Canada and had never even been to Japan. In 1945, there were orders from Ottawa to deport 10,00 Japanese Canadians who refused to move. The matter would go to the Supreme Court of Canada, and five of the nine justices on the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the government of Canada could not legally deport the unwilling.

     
     (Nikkei National Museum, Signing of the Redress; Parliament Hill, Ottawa, ON, 1988, Gordon Jing collection, 2010.32.56)


    The history of the Internment of Japanese Canadians has left a legacy of trauma in Japanese Canadian communities still felt today. Not a single Japanese Canadian was ever charged with an act of disloyalty. In 1988, the Prime minister Brian Mulroney delivered an apology on behalf of the Canadian Government for the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. Along with the apology the government announced a compensation package for those 13,000 survivors as well as a Japanese community fund and a Canadian race relations foundation to make sure that discrimination such as the Japanese Internment never happens again.  


    Bibliography 

    Day, Iyko. “Alien Inmates: The Coloniality of Japanese Internment in Australia, Canada, and the U.S.” American Journal 36, no. 2. (2010) 107-124. https://doi.org/10.17953/amer.36.2.v2780054171w0666.

    Kunimoto, Namiko. “Intimate Archives: Japanese-Canadian Family Photography, 1939-1949.” Blackwell Publishing 27, no. 1. (2004) 129-155. https://doi.org/10.111/j.0141-6790.2004.02701005.x.

    Robinson, Greg. “Internment of Japanese Canadians.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. Last modified September 17, 2020. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/internment-of-japanese-canadians.

    Sunahara, Ann. “Surviving the Politics of Racism: A Photo Essay.” Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre. Last modified 2020. http://japanesecanadianhistory.ca/photo-essay-surviving-the-politics-of-racism/.

  • 2021-04-12 12:00 | Anonymous
     
     Longstaff, Will. Ghosts of Vimy Ridge. 1931Oil on canvas. 138.0 x 270.2 cm. House of Commons Heritage Collection.

    From 9 to 12 April 1917, the Battle of Vimy Ridge raged in the north of France. For the first time in the Great War, the four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force fought together, employing new tactics, rigorous planning, and technological innovation in what was quite literally an up-hill battle against the German 6th Army. For a nation not quite 50 years old with little control over its own foreign policy, victory in the battle was unexpected, and even moving.

    Many today consider the Battle of Vimy Ridge to be one of Canada’s important national myths, if not our foundational myth. Scrappy, determined Canadians shrugged off our reputation as Britain’s dependent offspring by doing the seemingly impossible; all the better that it happened with snow flying in the face of the German defenders, the Canadian weather almost a mythological character unto itself. Others feel that this is a played-out narrative that pushes aside more meaningful moments in our history. The mythological overtone of Vimy Ridge did not even spring up until many of its participants had passed away, in part because by the time its harshest aspects had softened in collective memory, a more modern, technological war was occupying our thoughts.

    Wherever your beliefs sit on this spectrum, there is something to be said for the “small man” history of Vimy. With the glorious trappings of legend stripped away, the biographies of its ordinary participants offer a fascinating snapshot of Canada, 1917. United under a colonial flag (we would not get our own flag for another 50 years) the stories of these men tie into seemingly disparate scenes from Canadian history. While we often break the historical narrative up into distinct moments for book chapters and digestibility, everything is, of course, connected.


    Mike Mountain Horse, Alberta, Glenbow Archives NB-44-92
    One man present on those snowy April mornings was Mike Mountain Horse. He had joined the CEF to avenge the death of his brother Albert, who had been gassed twice early in the war, and died on his way home. They were from the Kainai Nation near what is now Lethbridge and grew up in St. Paul's Residential School and the Calgary Indian Industrial School. Few people would associate the culture built up around Vimy Ridge with Canada’s residential school system--but here we find a link. In fact, Mountain Horse’s mother lamented that it was residential school that planted the idea of enlisting in her sons’ heads in the first place. Still, it was unlikely that Mountain Horse joined the military to devote himself fully to the ideals of Anglo-Canada. As he himself wrote, “The war proved that the fighting spirit of my tribe was not squelched through reservation life. When duty called, we were there, and when we were called forth to fight for the cause of civilization, our people showed all the bravery of our warriors of old.” His motivations in joining the CEF were nuanced and complicated but informed at their core by Kainai warrior values. Mountain Horse wrote a history of his people in book form, and a war memoir in the form of a traditional story robe, which is currently on display here in the Army Museum of Alberta.

     
     Filip Konowal, VC
    Consider also the biography of Filip Konowal. While he is better known for his actions at Hill 70 (where he was awarded a Victoria Cross), he was also an acting corporal at Vimy Ridge. Konowal was Ukrainian, having only moved to Canada in 1913 like so many others from the region. Most people with an interest in Canadian WWI history will recall that Ukrainian Canadians were shunned during the war, with many being sent to internment camps and the rest being required to report regularly to their local police. So how did Konowal end up fighting for Canada at the Ridge instead doing unpaid physical labour in Banff? It comes down to his family’s farm in the old country, which was situated on the Zbruch River. This river formed the border between the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires; had the farm been on the west of the river, Konowal would have been an Austro-Hungarian subject, and therefore an “enemy alien” in Canada. Rather, he was a Russian subject, and therefore an ally. The distinction was not in ethnicity or language, but in which empire happened to occupy one’s birthplace. Through Konowal, Vimy is now linked to internment policies as well.

    Of course, there are as many biographies adding nuance to the narrative of “Vimy Ridge: Snapshot of a Fledgeling Nation” as there were individuals who fought there. What of the men of the 22nd Battalion CEF, the only unit of the CEF whose official language was French? Remember that 1917 was the year of the Conscription Crisis, when French Canadians expressed their discontent that they were being forced into service for what they saw as a British (read: not Canadian) obligation. Yet these men were at Vimy, fighting with the fiercest of them. 


     Photo of Henry Louis Norwest- Photo taken while as a member of 3rd Canadian Mounted Rifles, 1915

    Or what of Henry Louis Norwest, Métis marksman with a battalion sniping record? He had to enlist a second time under another name, discharged the first time for what the government calls "misbehaviour." Known for his patience and unique use of camouflage, the ex-rodeo performer received the Military Medal for his actions at Vimy Ridge. 

    One blog post cannot contain all of these stories, as much as I would like it to. Instead, I hope that it can be a starting-off point to inspire your own research. Who else was at the Ridge? And what do their stories tell us about Canada, about our history, and about us as people? This unorthodox approach to history, looking for connections that no textbook would have time to cover, has driven my interests for years. I hope during this period of remembrance that it has driven your interests too. 

    Post by Bridget Melnyk



    Bibliography 

    Dagenais, Maxime. “The ‘Van Doos’ and the Great War,” August 19, 2015. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/the-van-doos-and-the-great-war.

    Dempsey, L. James. "A Warrior's Robe." Alberta History 51, no. 4 (2003): 18+. Accessed March 20, 2021. https://go.gale.com/ps/anonymous?id=GALE%7CA109578876&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=03161552&p=AONE&sw=w

    Mountain Horse, Mike, and Hugh Aylmer Dempsey. My People, the Bloods. Calgary, Alberta: Glenbow-Alberta Institute, 1989.

    Sorobey, Ron. “Filip Konowal, VC: The Rebirth of a Canadian Hero.” Canadian Military History 5, no. 2 (1996): 44-56. Accessed March 20, 2021. https://scholars.wlu.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://scholar.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1219&context=cmh

    Summerby, Janice. Native Soldiers, Foreign Battlefields. Ottawa, ON: Veterans Affairs Canada, 2005. Accessed March 20, 2021. https://www.veterans.gc.ca/public/pages/remembrance/those-who-served/aboriginal-veterans/native-soldiers/natives_e.pdf

     

  • 2021-03-24 12:00 | Deleted user
    Mary Greyeyes (second from the left) and fellow CWAC members. Leader-Post (Saskatchewan, Canada) August 5, 1943, Page 3.


    Indigenous history has a long relationship with the Canadian military. When the Great War broke out, many Indigenous men enlisted. In 1939, when the Second World War broke out, Indigenous men answered once again and joined. However, new divisions were created, opening the door to Indigenous women to serve. In 1942 the Canadian Women's Army Corps (CWAC) was created, and the first recorded Indigenous member was Mary Greyeyes. Greyeyes was from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. She would become a valued asset and be used to represent the military's recruitment campaign around diversity.

    The CWAC provided women with an opportunity to serve in the war. Women in the CWAC performed traditional female occupations such as cleaning, working as office personnel, dental and medical technicians, or telephone operators. Greyeyes was originally shipped off to Aldershot, where she was a laundress. Greyeyes did not like the job and asked to be transferred. Her sergeant wrote on the papers, “does not speak English.” After this incident, Greyeyes was relocated to London to be a cook. Greyeyes had a unique experience in the military, as she was expected to both perform her service duties and also be present as a public figure.

     Mary Greyeyes and Harry Ball staged photo 1942. Library and Archives Canada, PA-129070


    There are a lot of misconceptions around the photo to the left, as it had a couple of different names since its circulation in 1942. The woman in the photo is Greyeyes. During this time, the military wanted to be seen as pro-diversity, and they used Greyeyes to promote this image. In 1942 she posed for this photo, which would be circulated in Canada to try and boost Indigenous recruitment. In return for posing in this photo, Greyeyes would receive a new uniform and a hearty meal. Greyeyes appeared in the photo kneeling before what appears to be a chief. The photo was originally captioned "Unidentified Indian Princess Getting Blessing From Her Chief and Father to go Fight in the War." However, the man in the photo was neither a chief nor her father; he was Harry Ball, a First World War veteran from Piapot First Nation northeast of Regina. He borrowed cultural clothing items such as the headdress, blanket, and tobacco pipe to pose for the photo.

    Having an Indigenous identity at this time was hard. The Indian Act restricted Indigenous people, and residential schools were taking their toll on the very fabric of these communities. Greyeyes herself attended a residential school and received up to her grade eight education. The photo fits into this time period because Canadians were not seeing the issues arising from the oppressive laws and institutions affecting many Indigenous communities in Canada. The photo demonstrates how the Canadian Military was willing to appropriate what they thought an Indigenous identity was.

    Many of the written records about Greyeyes commented on her Indian name and how she could speak fluent English. People saw Indigenous names as whimsical because they were different from Anglo last names. Greyeyes was a name that really grabbed the media's attention.

    Representation is important, and there is a lot to unpack from how the photo is titled and how Greyeyes was used in the photo. The picture’s title chooses to omit who Greyeyes and Ball were and lie about the transaction captured by the photo. Thanks to Greyeyes' daughter-in-law, Melanie Fahlman Reid, we know how Greyeyes recalls the conversation with Ball during the blessing in the photo. The conversation between the two was in Cree, and Greyeyes starts by saying “Christ.” Ball followed up with, “God, it’s hot. What Did you get for this?” Greyeyes proceeded to tell him she got a good meal, and Ball told her he got 20 bucks. Greyeyes asked why he is complaining when he got 20 bucks, and she was the one down in the bugs. This was the conversation happening during the blessing you see in the photo.

    It took over half a century to have the photo's name updated to "Private Mary Greyeyes, Cree, from Muskeg Lake, Cree Nation, Canadian Women's Army Corps." The update came because Fahlman Reid gave an accurate account of who Greyeyes was compared to "Unidentified Indian Princess."

    The photo does provide some representation. It demonstrates that Indigenous people were contributing to the war effort. Canada has an oppressive legacy when it comes to its treatment of Indigenous communities. A motivational factor for many Indigenous people to join the military was to prove they were worth the same as any Euro Canadian. Greyeyes' photo is a part of this legacy and gives visual affirmation that Indigenous representatives served and did their part during the war.

    Greyeyes saw the military as an opportunity to expand her knowledge and receive reasonable compensation. By the end of the Second World War, over 3,000 First Nations members would serve in the conflict. Greyeyes is a part of these important contributions, and she is not forgotten. Her CWAC experiences are unique and offer so much valuable information about being an Indigenous woman serving in the Second World War.  

    Bibliography

    Conn, Heather. “Mary Greyeyes Reid.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. Last modified November 22, 2017. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/mary-greyeyes#.

    Fahlman Reid, Melanie. “What Does This Photo Say?.” The Tyee. Last modified August 12, 2012. https://thetyee.ca/Life/2012/08/07/Canadian-War-Photograph/

    Poulin, Grace. Invisible Women: WWII Aboriginal Service-Women in Canada. Thunder Bay: Ontario Native Women’s Association, 2007.

    Veterans Affairs Canada. “Indigenous Veterans.” The Government of Canada. Last modified October 30 2020. https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/historical-sheets/indigenous-veterans.


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