Historic private records of Canadian aboriginal World Wars veterans to go online
December 7, 2015
Ottawa - Canadiana.org, a non-profit digital archive, is aiming to save the stories of Canadian aboriginal World War veterans by digitizing their surviving private records and sharing them online with the public.
The World Wars Aboriginal Veterans Portal (WWAVP) seeks to bring out the unique military experiences of Canada’s aboriginal (First Nations, Metis, and Inuit) soldiers by placing their records online and adding rich, intuitive search technologies. The result will be an educational repository of biographical information, photos, and records for the thousands of aboriginal soldiers who served in the World Wars including digitized primary sources supporting teaching, memory, and research.
The project seeks to draw upon private and personal collections to bring out narratives not yet inscribed into official histories. All digitized records will be published under a Creative Commons licence, allowing users of to download, reproduce and distribute these materials widely. Users will also be able to query, filter, and data mine this resource using a variety of fields, including geographical locations, nation or band, and military units.
The WWAVP was awarded a generous grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage through its World War Commemorations Community Fund. To coordinate the participation of aboriginal communities, Canadiana.org recruited Wampum Records, a leading aboriginal issues research organization, which will facilitate the transfer of digitized records into the free online archive.
Taynar Simpson, Wampum Records: "This project intends to honour and commemorate the aboriginal people who heeded Canada's call to arms during WWI and WWII. Aboriginal soldiers enlisted at an unprecedented rate in response to the threats of global security. Although many were not Canadian citizens at the time, this did not stop them from filling the ranks of the Canadian Forces. As a First Nations member, it is an honour to be able to commemorate our veterans on a national scale. First Nations warriors have always held a sacred position in our culture. Our veterans are held in the highest regard due to their willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and betterment of society. It is important that we never forget these sacrifices."