Canada’s People:
Important
Contributions
World War One
Native American
• I in 3 able-bodied Canadian Native American men, of
age to serve, enlisted during WWI.
• The Canadian Government, headed by Prime Minister
Robert Borden, had not expected that so many
Aboriginal people would volunteer.
• At first, it had hoped to discourage Native enlistment
and initially adopted a policy of not allowing Indians to
serve overseas. The policy stemmed from a belief that
the enemy considered Natives to be "savage", and a
fear that this stereotyped view would result in the
inhumane treatment of any Aboriginal people who
were taken prisoner..
Native Americans
• When conscription was put into place
in 1917 many Natives believed they
should be exempt, honouring
previous treaties which stated Natives
would not have to fight on Britain’s
behalf.
• On a voluntary basis, however, Native
enthusiasm for the war effort was
evident across Canada. Some reserves
were nearly depleted of young men.
For example, only 3 men of the
Algonquin of Golden Lake Band who
were fit and who were of age to serve
remained on their reserve. In British
Columbia, the Head of the Lake Band
saw every single man between the
ages of 20 and 35 volunteer.
African-Canadians
• Despite the growing desperation for new recruits
African-Canadians were heavily discouraged from
enlisting.
• Could only enlist if a local regime allowed them in.
• George Morton wrote to the minister of militia “...a
number of coloured men in this city who have
offered for enlistment and service have been turned
down...solely on the grounds of colour...this being
the reason given on the rejection or refusal
card...they think they should be permitted in
common with other peoples to perform their part...”
No. 2 Construction Battalion
• 1916 finally African-Canadians allowed to form a
corps but would not be allowed to fight.
• Built trenches, railways, worked in lumber yards.
• Very few African-Canadians were able to make
there way to the front.
Billy Bishop
• Canada’s most successful
pilot – credited with
destroying 72 enemy
planes.
• At the height of battle in
1917 the average life
expectancy of a pilot was
only 10-15 days.
• Bishop was a reckless pilot
but had excellent sight
and aim.
Grace MacPherson
• After losing her brother in the
war, Grace was inspired to
contribute to the war effort.
• After making her way to
France she was given the
honourary title Lieutenant in
the Voluntary Aid Detachment.
She would work as an
ambulance driver.
• Risked her life numerous times
travelling to the front to fetch
wounded soldiers.
John McCrae
• Author of the famous In
Flanders’ Field.
• Was given rank of Major in
WWI where he worked as a
surgeon.
• Poem was inspired by friend
lost in battle.
• It was his poem that inspired
the wearing of the poppy – a
tradition held all over the
world.
• Died of pneumonia and
meningitis while serving in
France.