Indigenous Soldiers

Thousands of Indigenous people served both overseas and on the home front.

Compiled by Alison Nagy

September 25, 2018

Tom Longboat, an Onondaga man who became a world-champion long-distance runner, is perhaps the most widely known Indigenous person to serve in the First World War. However, thousands more Indigenous people served both overseas and on the home front.

4,000

Official number of “Aboriginal” people who were members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Military records, however, didn’t always indicate Indigenous status, and records did not indicate whether enlistees were First Nations, Inuit, or Métis, so the complete numbers are unknown.

15

The number of Inuit and Southern Inuit men known to have joined the Newfoundland Regiment.

45,000

Amount of money raised by Indigenous people in support of the war effort. Indigenous women also set up branches of the Red Cross and other patriotic organizations.

1917

The year a one-time franchise was given to Indigenous men serving in the military, to allow them to vote in a federal election without losing their “Indian status.”

This article originally appeared in the October-November 2018 issue of Canada’s History.

Visit GreatWarAlbum.ca to learn more about John Shiwak, James Moses, Arnold Moses, Cameron Dee Brant and Charlotte Edith Anderson Monture.

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