"It Would Be Best to Leave Us Alone": First Nations Responses to the Canadian War Effort, 1914-18
Abstract

Early histories of the Great War emphasized the more patriotic and enthusiastic contributions of First Nations to the Canadian war effort. Situated in a more recent historiography, the present work applies new anecdotal and statistical evidence to explore the ambivalence and resistance that characterized the wartime responses of countless other First Nations peoples. First Nations responses to patriotic funding drives and to enlistment in particular were informed by a complex set of priorities and circumstances that both reflected and differed from those of Euro-Canadians. On balance, it can be said that First Nations peoples demonstrated significant reticence towards the war effort, and that the apparent enthusiasm of some was seldom driven by patriotism. While the country's Indigenous war heroes deserve a prominent place in Canadian history, then, the stories of those people who did not respond to the war effort with enthusiasm must also be told in order to understand the heterogeneity of First Nations' Great War experiences better.


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