Snipers and Scouts

Outstanding Accomplishments

When Samuel de Champlain joined a Huron-Algonquin war party in 1609 and killed two Iroquois with the shot from his harquebus, a new era began . . . . The only protection from the firearms and the greater killing power of the white man was in dispersion, sniping and ambush.

Military historian Fred Gaffen 25

Most Canadians, Indigenous men included, served in the infantry with the Canadian Corps in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). Many Indigenous soldiers became snipers or reconnaissance scouts, drawing upon traditional hunting and military skills to deadly effect.

The duties were straightforward and dangerous. Snipers kept the enemy unnerved with their rifle-fire by shooting at targets from concealed positions called "nests". Scouts slipped behind the front lines in advance of an attack to determine the enemy's positions and capabilities.

Throughout the war, the Department of Indian Affairs received scores of letters from the front commending Indigenous marksmen and scouts. As well, at least 50 decorations were awarded to them for their bravery while sniping and scouting and for performing other feats of valour during the war. Though the following men are few in number, they represent a larger group of unnamed Indigenous soldiers, who placed a greater cause before their own lives.

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