________________ CM . . . .Volume V Number 18 . . . . May 7, 1999

cover Forgotten Warriors: The Story of Canada's Aboriginal War Veterans.

Loretta Todd (Director), Carol Geddes, Michael Doxtater, Jerry Krepakevich (Producers).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1996.
51 min., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: 9196 142.

Subject Headings:
World War, 1939-1945-Participation, Indian.
World War, 1939-1945-Personal narratives, Indian.
Indian veterans-Canada.

Grades 9-12/Ages 14-17.
Review by Ian Stewart.

**** /4

This award winning documentary film tells the poignant story of Canada's Second World War Aboriginal veterans. Through interviews with surviving soldiers and contemporary Aboriginal leaders, plus the use of archival film footage, their story is told with dignity and restraint.

      As this evocative film describes, these men and women enlisted for many reasons, as did their White comrades-in-arms: the simple duty of patriotism, to protect the land, to get a job, or from a desire to see the world. They fought in Hong Kong, at Dieppe, waded ashore with the mighty Allied army on D-Day, and trudged their way across Europe to the final liberation.

      Families waited for their return, but many mourned the loss of a son, daughter or father. Some performed the sacred rituals of the Sun Dance ceremonies to protect their far-away warriors from harm, even though these ancient rites were prohibited by federal law.

      The film does not ask any Aboriginal veterans if they would have fought for Canada had they known how dismally they would be treated when they returned from the war. Native land, expropriated during the war for military use, was not returned. Native land was sold to White veterans under the Soldiers' Settlement Act, and Aboriginals did not have the right to buy land or obtain other benefits because of Indian Act restrictions. Many of these issues still fester today with land claims continuing in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. Many Aboriginal veterans' lives, including the highly decorated Tommy Prince, ended in despair and poverty because of endemic racial discrimination.

      World War II ended in 1945, but the film reveals that fifty years were to pass before Aboriginal veterans were allowed to lay Remembrance Day wreaths at the National War Memorial to remember and honor their dead comrades. Hopefully, this film will be shown in schools so that all students will learn about these forgotten warriors.

Highly Recommended.

Ian Stewart is a regular contributor to CM and the Winnipeg Free Press book review column.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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