Aboriginal Treatment

Heroes Remember

Aboriginal Treatment

In the spring of '43, we were training in Wainwright on mock combat, fighting and we were treated reasonably for an Aboriginal There wasn't maybe, in my company, I think there was four but we weren't in the same platoon but they were in the company. I'd see them once in awhile. And unfortunately, some of our Aboriginal Veterans, then, were ashamed of their nationality, some of them, they wouldn't speak Cree. And that hurt me too because I'm a, I was brought up, like I said, I couldn't speak English when I started and I wanted to speak Cree and I was lonesome for that communication, too. But what had helped me in my young life as an Army person was I liked the cleanliness of showers, you know, I never had before. We used to swim in the lake and that was about it or there were... and it felt good to the discipline, didn't hurt me because my parents were very strict, especially my mother. We were brought up very militant but also fair. There was a lot of love and care in our family. We done something good and we were honoured with something sepcial and we worked towards those kind of goals so the strictness of the army didn't hurt me. I still feel good about the, the rigid rules they had and if you followed them, you were never in trouble. But there was a few times I was in trouble because I didn't follow them and I used to think, well if I hadn't done wrong I wouldn't have got this punishment. And some of it was scrubbing floors in the camp and washing dishes when others were free and, but it's kind of a bit of a laughing matter when you think of it but, not at the time cause it was punishment. Interviewer: How were you treated, Mr Sinclair, by the other soldiers, the other young men that you were with. I was treated pretty fair, the older ones especially. They tried to help me because they knew I was Indian ancestry and there was a few smart alecs, the ones that were just slightly older than me, maybe nineteen or twenty years old. But what helped me a lot too was the boxing. I could out box any of those smart alecs and I got to be kinda respected as an athlete. I don't think they were in love me as a person but I was treated fair and I appreciated it.

Mr. Sinclair thinks back to the fair treatment he received as an Aboriginal serving in the Canadian Army during the Second World War.

Samuel John Sinclair

Samuel John Sinclair, an aboriginal Veteran of the Second World War, was born on November 22, 1926 in Lesser Slave Lake, Alberta. His father was a trapper and a mixed farmer as well as a good hunter. Mr. Sinclair had 12 brothers and sisters. Before being sent to school he spoke only Cree, which made his early education quite challenging. He worked hard, learned to speak English and eventually did quite well at school. He stayed in school until Grade 10.

He joined the army underage at 15 without permission from his parents. He was big for his age and told everyone he was 18. He was stationed in Wainwright, Alberta where his first job involved being a dishwasher. At the age of 17 when the Canadian army needed men for the invasion of Europe, he was shipped overseas as one of the reinforcements after D-day.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Samuel John Sinclair
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: