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News - Veterans - 19 Sep 2008

News Item 836 of 1377 

Veterans: 19 Sep 2008
Aboriginal servicewomen contributed to Canada's Second World War effort

It was 1944 and Marion Hill was eighteen years of age when she walked by the recruitment office in Brantford, ON and decided to go in. Marion was one of a number of women who joined the Canadian Womenís Army Corp. and made the commitment to serve her country in the mid 1940ís.
Credit: http://www.luluk.com/tulips.html

My memories of the Second World War are still quite clear because two of my cousins were in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Both of them were about 10 years older than I, so when the war ended in 1945, I was just finishing Grade 8. This meant that the six war years took place during my peak years of learning.

Our teacher, old Mary Jamieson, would unroll the huge map over the front blackboard and show us exactly how far the British army had chased the German army across the North African desert. She would have made a great TV broadcaster but that was before televisions were available.

Then on Sunday, my uncle Howard Beaver, who was a deacon at the local Baptist church, would remind the congregation about my cousin, Peter, overseas in England and my other cousin, Grace, in Newfoundland in the RCAF.

Peter came back after the war with such a British accent we couldn't understand him for weeks, but Grace was OK.

I recently saw Grace's picture in a book called Album of Honour for Brant County at the Brantford Library. At a time when a woman's place was in the home, it was a brave thing for Grace to join the armed forces.

Other Six Nations women also supported the war effort. As soon as she was 18, Marion Miller joined the Canadian Army. After basic training she became a military driver. She was posted to Halifax and not only drove jeeps, trucks, station wagons and staff cars, but even changed tires and serviced the vehicles. This freed up a soldier to do other military duties.

Marion has been a member of the Royal Canadian Legion for almost 50 years, has spent 10 years as president of the Ladies Auxiliary and, at age 82, still attends Remembrance Day services.

In June she went all the way to Thunder Bay to attend the Reunion of the WWII Aboriginal Servicewomen. She also came back with a newly published book called Invisible Women: WWII Aboriginal Servicewomen in Canada.

It is the story of 18 Aboriginal women from various parts of Canada who enlisted in the army, the air force and the navy. They are called invisible because so many Canadians did not know there were any Aboriginal women in Canada's armed forces in WWII.

In order to ensure that the brave native women veterans from Six Nations and New Credit will be remembered an Honouring Ceremony will take place on Saturday, September 20th at 11a.m. in Veterans Park, Ohsweken.

Justice of the Peace, Norma Lickers has prepared a list of approximately 34 female veterans from Six Nations of the Grand and Mississauga First Nation who will be honoured in a suitable way. Everyone is invited to attend.

Our Town is a forum for news and views from smaller communities in our area.

George Beaver is a freelance writer based in Ohsweken.


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GEORGE BEAVER, The Brantford Expositor
 

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