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Contribution for Canadian Identity, Aboriginal Soldiers, First and Second World Wars

Throughout history, Canadian aboriginals have not been recognized for their contribution, sacrifices, and involvement in Canadian war efforts. During the First and Second World Wars, many aboriginals enlisted themselves in the services for the Canadian Armed Forces. In World War I, aboriginal soldiers like Corporal (Cpl). Francis Pegahmagabow and Henry Norwest helped advance the Canadian identity with their skills and bravery in Canadian fought battles. Tommy Prince in World War II worked hard to further maintain the Canadian identity. Aboriginal soldiers courage, sacrifices, and accomplishments further developed Canadian identity in World War I and World War II.

Aboriginal, Corporal (Cpl) Francis Pegahmagabow contributed his brave actions for the development of the Canadian identity. It was during his first year on the Western Front that Pegahmagabow became one of the first Canadians to be awarded the Military Medal (MM). He received his MM for his service as a messenger in battles such the Battle of Ypres. Pegahmagabow was a messenger from February 1915 to February 1916; he “carried messages with great bravery and success during the whole of the actions at Ypres, Festubert and Givenchy.” [1] The bravery of Pegahmagabow resulted in the halt of the German advance. The defeat of the Germans was important in Canadian history because, the world now saw Canada as an independent nation that could unite as one to fight for their rights and freedom. Pegahmagabow was important because his job of delivering messages allowed access to information about the German advance which in turn resulted in a Canadian victory. This victory gave the Canadians an independent identity.

At the Battle of Passchendaele, Pegahmagabow added the first bar to his MM for his work of running across the land through the tough war conditions to bring back valuable information for his unit. The information Pegahmagabow provided resulted in “the success of the attack and saving valuable time in consolidating.” [2] The courage of the aboriginal soldier Cpl. Pegahmagabow and his excellent work contributed to the success of the Canadians capturing the Passchendaele Ridge. The victory of the battle of Passchendaele was vital in the development of the Canadian identity because the British Army had previously tried to capture the Passchendaele Ridge for three months but had not succeeded. The Canadians captured the ridge mainly because of the support and the contribution of such soldiers like Pegahmagabow, and therefore Canadians accomplished goals that other countries had failed to do.

During Pegahmagabow’s service in the Canadian Armed Forces Cpl. Pegahmagabow “captured 300 soldiers and shot 378.” [3] As a result of his achievements, Pegahmagabow served as a catalyst for Canada to be able to have a presence on a global scale. Cpl. Pegahmagabow was also a skilled marksmanship, which allowed him to succeed at the battlefront. Applying these skills resulted in a high number of casualties on the German side which, identified him as a valuable soldier. This was a great advantage for the Canadian side as the strength of the enemy forces was weakened, therefore Canadians were a step closer to wining the war. This achievement by an aboriginal soldier further contributed to the Canadian identity.

Henry Norwest, another aboriginal, contributed to the development of the Canadian identity by utilizing his fine skills in sniping. Norwest was given his first MM after the capture of the Pimple peak on Vimy Ridge because, Norwest showed “great bravery, skill and initiative in sniping the enemy after the capture of the Pimple.” [4] The sniping skills Norwest possessed led to the Canadians capturing the peak on Vimy Ridge. Killing the enemy after the capture of the Pimple peak was important because, the skillful aboriginal saved a great number of Canadian soldiers....
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