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Manitoba man started aboriginal military unit 100 years ago to avoid racism – CBC

by ahnationtalk on November 16, 2015623 Views

Nov 13, 2015

‘Under fire, you’re not really concerned about the colour of the skin … of the person on either side of you’

A Manitoba man is being remembered for defying racism during the First World War.

Lt.-Col. Glenlyon (Glen) Campbell raised and mobilized the 107th (Timber Wolf) Battalion in Winnipeg 100 years ago this month. About half of the soldiers in the unit were aboriginal, and many were recruited from residential schools.

“He felt that if he could keep the First Nations people under his command, he could shield them from a lot of the racism they faced at home,” said Glen Campbell, who’s named after his great-grandfather. “All of his men really respected him.”

When the First World War began in 1914, the Canadian government discouraged aboriginal people from enlisting. In 1915, after experiencing heavy casualties in Europe, the Canadian military needed more troops and the government relaxed its policies. By 1917, the government actively recruited aboriginal soldiers.

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