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JOHN JOE SARK: A declaration of war?

First World War volunteer Louis Toney of Lennox Island was killed in action.
(Submitted Photo)
First World War volunteer Louis Toney of Lennox Island was killed in action. (Submitted Photo)

Every available able-bodied Mi’kmaq man joined the Canadian armed forces during the world wars

BY JOHN JOE SARK

GUEST OPINION

I wish to comment on a recent article written by Jim Hornby entitled “The folly of hype and haste.” What it says underneath the title headline is what is most objectionable. I couldn’t believe such a fear-mongering and hate-filled statement would be uttered by a lawyer, as lawyers are “officers of the court.”

It states “Jim Hornby is acting commander of the Saint John’s Volunteers, a long-dormant Island militia that he has called out in defence of Fort Amherst.”

As a Mi’kmaq, I’m very disturbed with what he has said. Has he declared war on the Mi’kmaq Nation and the Indigenous and non-Indigenous People of P.E.I. and the rest of Canada, as well as the U.S.A., who are requesting that the name of Jeffery Amherst be removed because of his intention to exterminate the Indigenous People?

Amherst encouraged the use of biological warfare and other inhumane atrocities that were committed against the Indigenous Peoples and the Acadians.

As acting commander, Mr. Hornby has caused a grave insult to the whole Mi’kmaq Nation, especially to our Mi’kmaq veterans. I’m sure that Mr. Hornby knows that every available able-bodied Mi’kmaq man joined the Canadian armed forces during the First and Second World Wars, and the Korean conflict, in addition to serving in peacekeeping duties around the world.

In the First World War, 32 Mi’kmaq from the Lennox Island Band enlisted in the armed forces, distinguishing themselves particularly in the Battle of Amiens. Thirty-four Mi’kmaq served during WW2 and seven served in the Korean War.

As a percentage of the community’s population, there aren’t many groups of people in Canada who can match the record of the Mi’kmaq from Lennox Island in their contribution to Canada’s fight for the freedom of Europe.

These courageous men and women showed great loyalty to Canada, risking and sometimes giving up their lives for a country that didn’t recognize them as citizens.

Our people were not recognized as citizens of Canada until 1960. They couldn’t enjoy a drink with their non-Mi’kmaq comrades at the Legion or at a bar because it was against the law for Indigenous people to consume alcohol until the 1960s.

They could save the lives of their comrades in the trenches, but they couldn’t sit down with their military comrades at the Legion nor in a bar to share their experiences of service for Canada in the great wars.

While they were away fighting in Europe, the federal government was sending the police into their homes to steal their children and send them to the horrific Indian Residential School in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia.

As a member of the Mi’kmaq Nation, I call on Mr. Hornby to apologize to the Mi’kmaq People of Epekwitk (P.E.I.) and the whole Mi’kmaq Nation.

- Dr. John Joe Sark LLD (Hon) is Keptin of Mi’kmaq Grand Council

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