Aboriginal Participation in Canadian Military Service: Historic and Contemporary Contexts 

From the Author's article: "The aim of this paper is to indicate a spectrum of attitudes as exhibited by status Indian communities and individual Aboriginal persons in Canada in response to perceived challenges and opportunities arising from Canada's involvement in the First and Second World Wars. (1) It is anticipated that a familiarity with Canadian Aboriginal issues will become an added feature in the professional knowledge of Canadian Forces (CF) personnel. This is in view of further likely domestic operations within Canada including provision of Aid to the Civil Power, the continued expansion of Reserve programs such as the Canadian Rangers, current Regular Force recruitment initiatives including the CF Aboriginal Entry Program and the Sergeant Tommy Prince Army Training Initiative. As CF personnel will be dealing with First Nations constituencies within these contexts, it is appropriate they further their knowledge of First Nations socio-political and historical issues pertaining to military affairs in Canada. -------------------- Aboriginal communities across many parts of Canada have a tradition of military service in support of the Crown during conflict and war. However, this service has never been unconditional, nor without complication or controversy for those First Nations individuals and communities concerned. For status Indian people in Canada, the question of participation or non-participation in the two World Wars was divisive within Indian reserve communities and in some cases among individual families. The legacies of these divisions continue to be felt in some communities today. ------------------ A detailed history of Aboriginal/ European relations is beyond the scope of this paper. However, initial periods of First Nations/European contact across what is now eastern North America may be characterised in terms approaching relative equality. During peacetime the European powers involved (prior to 1664, the English, French and Dutch) were interested in maintaining the co-operation of their First Nations counterparts in pursuit of joint economic projects, principally those involving the fur trade, the success of which was largely dependent upon indigenous labour. In wartime, these same powers sought to secure the active support of their First Nations opposites as military allies, or to secure from them guarantees of neutrality."

Moses, John
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Moses, John. "Aboriginal Participation in Canadian Military Service: Historic and Contemporary Contexts." The Army Doctrine and Training Bulletin 3, no. 3 (2000): 43-47.