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Canadian Soldiers Overlooked in History
Transcript of Canadian Soldiers Overlooked in History
When coloured soldiers attempted to enlist in the war they were rebuked.
They were told it was a "white man's war."
There were no separate black units.
Those who did manage to enlist could only serve in battalions at the discretion of the commading officer.
This was a highly discrimantory enterprise and upheld the racist attitudes that were dominant in the Victorian Era.
Battallions were reserve forces that didn't have the same status or priveledge as regular forces. Food For Thought...
Who have we been predominantly learning about in our study of WWI? What groups have been excluded from our studies? Why do you think this is? What Changed? As the war progressed enrollment dropped substantially. Enlistment fell from 30,000 men a month to 6000. In July 1916 the government decided to create a separate
Battalion operating out of Nova Scotia (under the command
of D.H. Sutherland) The men in the No. 2 Construction Battalion were of African Canadian descent working under white officers. Their role as a construction unit was to support the front lines, building roads and bridges and defusing land mines so advancing troops could move forward, and bringing out the wounded. The No. 2 Construction Battalion had
just over 600 men. It was a part of the Canadian Forestry Corps. First Nations Soldiers Afro-Canadian soldiers felt it was extremely unjust to not be able to serve for King and Country. As Canadians they believed it was their right and responsibility to fight for the freedom of the empire. How Were They Remembered? Sources have indicated that the No. 2 Construction Battalion has largely been forgotten by "White Canada." They were denied recognition at Veteran Ceremonies. It wasn't until 1977 that something was formally done in the community of Nova Scotia to honour their efforts. Is this fair? Nursing Sisters Aboriginal peoples weren't acknowledged for their contributions in military records. 1 in 3 Aboriginal men enlisted for service in the Canadian Army. However some First Nations groups were not willing to enlist unless they were viewed as an independent nation under British rule. On the home front First Nations groups raised $44000.00 When they returned First Nations soldiers felt that some of the issues regarding rights, citizenship and agency would be resolved, especially given the fact that like their Canadian European counterparts they were expected to fight as equals at the front. Exposure to new ideas in Europe as well as the conditions that came with the treaty of Versaille increased the expectations first nations Veterans had of the Canadian Government. However they were still disenfranchised. "...The post-war attitude of the Indian Department was as though the war had never occurred and nothing had changed. When an Indian agent inquired in 1922 about the legal status of Indian veterans, J.D. McLean, Secretary of the Department, replied: "These returned Indian soldiers are subject to the provisions of the Indian Act and are in the same position as they were before enlisting." (14) This statement made clear that nothing had changed in terms of the legal, social or economic status of Indian Nations after the war. Even though they had survived the war, many of the Indian veterans continued to live at the bottom of the economic ladder, and as the years passed their situation did not improve. One can imagine the despair they experienced, especially when comparing themselves to their non-Indian comrades." Canadian military nurses, or nursing sisters, as they were sometimes called, often worked right near the front in wartime. They were also present on hospital ships, where they daily faced the threat of torpedo attacks. During WWI, 15 of 34 hospital ships were sunk by submarines due to their white colour being easily targeted through a submarine's periscope. All the nurses eventually ended up the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corp in 1915. During WWI, 46 nursing sisters died, of a total of 3,141 who served overseas. Paid $90 a month
for their services.