“They Should Vanish Into Thin Air ... and Give no Trouble”: Canadian Aboriginal Veterans of World Wars

Magdalena Paluszkiewicz-Misiaczek


The article presents how the introduction of the Pensions Act and Soldier Settlement Act during the First World War and a comprehensive Veterans’ Charter during the Second World War helped Canada to solve many veteran re-establishment problems. Thanks to these relatively far-reaching and efficient systems of care for the returning soldiers, the vast majority of Canadian ex-servicemen were offered retraining courses, employment and educational possibilities, land grants, and disability pensions. Canadian Aboriginal ex-service personnel were exceptions to this rule, however, and received inequitable treatment. This article explores the reasons why most Aboriginal soldiers were deprived of opportunities and possibilities to make their own, informed, rational decisions about reintegration into civilian society upon return to Canada. Furthermore, it shows how (after the initial months of post-war appreciation) the majority of First-Nations veterans were forced to accept their inferior status, Indian Act restrictions,  and the omnipotence of Indian agents.  



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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.