Since the War of 1812, First Nations men have been fighting as part of British forces in conflicts around the world.
Over 7,000 men volunteered to serve in the First and Second World Wars.
Julian Boyce was one of 200 young men from the Shuswap Nation who volunteered during the First World War (WWI).
He re-enlisted in the army in June 1942.
After basic training he was sent overseas where he saw active duty. He was discharged and returned home to Canim Lake in August 1943.
When the Second World War (WWII) threw the world into chaos once again, Boyce answered the call to serve. He was stationed in the Army Reserves in the Maritimes where he rose through the ranks as a highly respected instructor of young recruits.
Alana Dixon is Boyce’s granddaughter. She told of how he kept a promise when he returned home.
“While he was in the Maritimes, my grandfather formed a lifelong friendship with a soldier from the Chu Chua Reserve. He made a deal with his buddy that, on his return from the war, he would travel to the reserve on the North Thompson and marry his friend’s sister Teresa Saul, which he did. So my grandmother was a war bride.
“My grandparents and our family lived and worked off the reserve at the 105 Ranch. We lived in a house across from the Watson Mansion. Like other veterans, my father never spoke about the war with us. Perhaps he talked with other veterans. And like many others he had contracted tuberculosis and spent time in hospital recuperating.”
Julian Boyce was one of nine Canim Lake Band (CLB) Veterans.
Pte. Sam Archie enlisted in May 1941. He became chief of the CLB on his return in January 1946. He operated a sawmill and a logging company. He and his wife Lizzie raised five children.
Joseph Archie served at bases in Canada during WWII. He was a respected elder who lived the longest of the CLB’s veterans.
After his return from WWI, Louie Emile became a star hockey player for the Famous Alkali Braves. The achievements of the team were recognized recently at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission BC National Event in Vancouver. Emile re-enlisted in WWII. He suffered from a severely broken leg that trouble him the rest of his life.
Paul Theodore served overseas during WWII. He seldom spoke about what he had seen and done. He was known as a good man who trapped and hunted for his family.
Morris Dixon enlisted in 1941. He was taken prisoner by the Germans in Sicily during the Italian Campaign. When he was rescued by Allied soldiers, he weighed 118 pounds. He married Lillian Bates from the Sugar Cane Reserve.
Peter Christopher served overseas in both wars, taking part in several major battles. He was an all-star hockey player with the Alkali Braves.
Edward Dixon Sr. joined the army when he was 20 years old, in 1940. He served as a gunner in both the Northern European and Italian Theatres of WWII. He took part in battles that liberated Holland and Belgium.
Henry Bob served his country as a Sapper in WWII. He was one of the few veterans who would talk about his experiences. He would describe battles to make clear to everyone the dreadful reality of war. At the same time, he would tell about the positive things he had seen. He is remembered for his compassion for everyone.
Individual memorial markers honouring the Canim Lake Veterans have been placed in the Cemetery at the Reserve.
A Remembrance Day ceremony will be held on Nov. 7 at Eliza Archie Memorial School at 10:45 a.m.
Marianne Van Osch is an author, historian and storyteller who resides at Forest Grove.