Indigenous people were not obliged to enter the armed forces during the Second World War, but thousands enlisted anyway. Native Canadian veteran Adam Cutham, says his people have never been afraid of death, and willingly accepted the most perilous of tasks. In the military, he says, he was treated for the first time as an equal. But as we hear on this clip from CBC Radio's Our Native Land, that treatment ended when he returned to Canada.
The impact of treaty-making in Canada has been wide-ranging and long standing. The treaties the Crown has signed with Aboriginal peoples since the 18th century have permitted the evolution of Canada as we know it. In fact, much of Canada's land mass is covered by treaties.
During the First World War, thousands of Aboriginal people voluntarily enlisted in the Canadian military. While the exact enlistment number is unknown, it is estimated that well over 4,000 Aboriginal people served in the Canadian forces during the conflict.
This resource provides multimedia links and sources that help explain treaties in Canada.
Learn about how Aboringinals served Canada during WWII.
This resource allows you to explore through text and video the contributions of Native Peoples in Canada to WWI, WWII, and the Korean War.
"Aboriginal Canadians have responded to the call of war, time and time again. In Confederation Park, in downtown Ottawa, a monument honours Aboriginal Canadians who have volunteered in Canadas armed forces, from the First World War to the present day. At six metres high, it is a significant reminder that many Aboriginal Canadians sacrificed their lives at a time when they didn't even have the right to vote. The monument, unveiled on National Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2001, was commissioned by the National Aboriginal Veterans Association, an organization formed in 1981 to represent the accomplishments and interests of Aboriginal peoples in times of war and peace. Aboriginal soldiers are renowned as snipers and reconnaissance scouts, utilizing their traditional skills as hunters and warriors. Created by Aboriginal artist Lloyd Pinay of the Peepeekisis First Nation in Saskatchewan, the bronze and granite monument reflects harmony with the environment, a central and long-standing Aboriginal value. Accordingly, all humans, plants and animals exist in an interrelated circle, and have spirits that must be respected, honoured and tended. Four animal spirits — wolf, buffalo, elk and bear — guide warriors in their pursuit of victory and peace. Male and female figures represent Aboriginal Canadians from Metis, Inuit and First Nations communities across Canada. They hold weapons, but also important spiritual objects: an eagle feather fan and a peace pipe. Symbol of the Creator, the Thunderbird sits atop the monument, uniting and guiding those below."