Monthly Archives: December 2001

Agreement Solidifies Ties Between Valley Schools and First Nations

By Christina Martens

May 16 will be a historic day for the Cowichan Valley School District and the area’s Aboriginal population. During a presentation to teachers and teacher’s aides at the Cowichan Community Centre Wednesday, members of the Hwulmuhw Mustimhuw (HM) Education Advisory Committee (HMEAC) unveiled the aboriginal education improvement agreement framework.

“This agreement is the turning point in that it formalizes the joint communication between the District and the Aboriginal community,” said Cowichan District Teachers Association (CDTA) representative Jeanne Berryman.

Made up of representatives of the School District, First Nations and Metis Nation representatives, the committee was formed to find out how Aboriginal students were functioning in District schools. Formed in the fall of 2000, assessments and surveys were done in January and February, which involved speaking with teachers, teacher’s aides, students, staff, parents, elders and First Nations and Metis representatives. Eighteen schools were selected from the District with more than 400 students participating. Of those, 226 were Aboriginal students.

“The dominant message was that parents wanted their kids to graduate with an education and a knowledge of their culture,” said Glenn Goring, one of the two-person data collection team.

Goring noted that public schools are unable to serve the needs of Aboriginal students unless multicultural schools are developed and that issues related to racism, cultural identity and low parent participation are addressed.

“The importance of cultural identity has been a recurring theme,” said Goring.

Another recurring theme is the data indicating that as Aboriginal students progress through the grades, the numbers start dropping off until 68 per cent of the Aboriginal students enrolled in Grade 11 are not enrolled in Grade 12. That’s compared with 26 per cent for non-Aboriginal students. The Improvement Agreement Framework is designed to narrow the gap in performance between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students by two per cent while honouring and supporting the cultures and languages of the Aboriginal people whose territories are served by School District No. 79.

“Two per cent is reasonable and attainable and has been used by other districts with Improvement Agreements,” said Aboriginal education representative Eric McMahon. “Our challenge will be to measure this target.”

The goals of the five-year agreement are to increase success rates, developing the skills foundation in Grades 4, 7 and 10, increasing attendance rates, using measures to implement technology,language and culture studies in the schools. “We tried to keep the goals as narrow as possible so we could tack them,” said data collector Ted Cadwallader.

The plan will develop targets that are reasonable, attainable, represent meaningful progress and be “reassessed annually to determine at what rate did we hit the target,” said McMahon.

Berryman assured teachers that current programs will stay intact, unless future programs and opportunities present themselves. What will change, is the type of support front-line workers will receive.

“The agreement is a turning point in that in formalizes the joint connection between the district and the Aboriginal community. The signing of this agreement creates a pathway for us to move forward.”

Gwishalaayt – The Spirit Wraps Around You

A long, long time ago on the North Coast of British Columbia the Tsimshian people of the Skeena River began Chilkat weaving. It is said that a young woman and her grandmother were living in a small village, and there was not enough food to go around. The young princess started to fast. Through this process she had a vision of weaving. She took this piece of wool and wove it into a dance apron. The weaving then went north to the Tlingit in Alaska through a marriage.

Gwishalaayt – The Spirit Wraps Around You is a story told through the compelling lives of six Native weavers. They come from various places along the coast of British Columbia, into Southeast Alaska and the Yukon.

Directed by Barb Cranmer, her credits include writing and directing her first documentary, Lazwesa Wa: Strength of the River about the West Coast fishery for the Discovery Channel, which has won numerous awards. She wrote, directed and produced Qatuwas: People Gathering Together about the rebirth of the canoe culture on the Pacific Northwest Coast. This film won the first Telefilm Canada/TV Northern Canada Award, Best Documentary at the American Indian Film Festival, and was invited to the 1997 Sundance Film Festival. T’lina: The Rendering of Wealth about the traditional eulachon fishery won Best Documentary at the American Indian Film Festival, 1999. It was also nominated for a Chalmers Award.

“I have been involved in film and video for fifteen years. The inspiration for my work comes from our own people’s rich history. I am a messenger of this rich history. Our First Nations communities have entrusted me with these stories to bring to the wider public. The telling of our stories from our perspective and giving voice to our native communities is critical.”

“I feel fortunate to be able to live the history of our people through the films I make. I get my source of strength from my community, and most importantly from my family. They give me a strong sense of identity.”

Barb Cranmer is a member of the ‘NAMGIS First Nation of Alert Bay, BC of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation.

“What does Chilkat weaving mean to me? It means power – power of the people that own the rights to use it – power of the person that’s weaving it – the power that goes into the robe – that spiritual power that is put on it when you wear that robe. We believe that it comes alive.”
– William White, Tsimshian weaver

So speaks one of the six traditional Chilkat weavers featured in award-winning ‘Namgis director/producer Barb Cranmer and producer Cari Green’s moving new documentary, Gwishalaayt – The Spirit Wraps Around You. Each of these weavers shares their knowledge and personal experience of practicing an art form that has become a way of life for them, and a celebration of spirit and culture. Shot on location in British Columbia, the Yukon, and Alaska, this film presents a stunningly visual interconnection between the living landscape, a rich cultural heritage, and the patterns woven by the weaver’s skilled hands.

Through their desire to learn the meaning and technique of an art once thought to be dead by some anthropologists, the weavers have come together. In the formation of the Weavers’ Circle, Chilkat and Northern Geometric traditions are kept alive. In the entire world there are only fifteen weavers that continue to practice an art form that is thousands of years old. By profiling six of these weavers the film offers a rare and valuable insight into the complex process of Chilkat weaving. We see them gathering cedar, making patternboards, dying wool, and weaving. One blanket can take years to make, and carries within it a living history that embodies the dances and ceremonies they were intended for.

In this film, we witness a historic event brought about by the formation of the Weavers’ Circle. The Tlingit keepers of the Chilkat tradition ceremonially return the Chilkat weaving to the Tsimshian people, originators of the art form. This event, catalyzed by the dedication ad spirit of the traditional weavers, is a powerful testament to the continuation of a living, breathing culture.

“Through our knowledge we will pass on the signs and symbols of our people; and through them we will work towards breaking down the artificial boundaries of colonial governments that have attempted to divide the Indigenous Nations and pre-empt traditional boundaries. The importance of traditional art as property to Indigenous people will not be underestimated.”
– Weavers’ Statement, August 1993

Ernestine Hanlon-Abel, Tlingit from the Tlie ne di Clan of Hoonah, Alaska. The clan represents Dog salmon, Crow, Raven. Ernestine has been the driving force for the weavers’ circle to make a statement about the weaving to share with the rest of the world.

Suzi Williams, Tlingit from Klawock, Alaska. She came to the weaving from a life changing experience when she was very young. She saw her first Chilkat blanket at the Burke Museum in Seattle and she knew that she was going to become a Chilkat weaver. This was the first step on the path back home. She is passing on this important artform to her daughter, Yarrow.

Clarissa Hudson, Tlingit from Hoonah, Alaska. She was fortunate to work with the last Master Chilkat weaver, Jenny Thlunaut. Clarissa shares the strong teachings left by Jenny. Clarrisa continues to teach weaving to the Tlingit women in Alaska.

Donna Cranmer, ‘Namgis from Alert Bay, BC of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation. Her great, great, great grandmother Mary Ebbetts-Hunt was a Tlingit woman from Tongass Island, Alaska who was a Chilkat weaver. Donna’s direct family lineage gives her the right to weave Chilkat and to dance these beautiful pieces in potlaches today.

Ann Smith, Tutchone-Tlingit from Whitehorse. She feels that when she is weaving it is like being out on the land, and that connection is very important. She sees the strength of the weaving coming from the culture; it is who we are. She honours the past weavers by weaving a blanket called “Grandmother’s Time.”

Willie White, Tsimshian from Prince Rupert, BC is a young man with a big responsibility. There has not been a Chilkat weaver in his Nation for over a hundred years. Willie has made it a priority to take this weaving back to his people. Chilkat weaving started with his people on the Skeena River.

Debate Rages Over Native Alcoholism

Some argue a chief’s warning to sober up is welcome recognition of a problem. Others call it unfair stereotyping, writes Glen McGregor.

When Assembly of First Nations Chief Matthew Coon Come warned that native leaders must sober up, he was drawing on a long-standing and persistent stereotype of native alcoholism that never has been proved conclusively.

“Our people smoke too much and drink too much,” said Mr. Coon Come, Canada’s top elected native. “I think it does not give a good signal if a chief and council and anyone who is in Indian leadership is denying that he has alcohol problems.”

To many, Mr. Coon Come’s recent remarks came as a welcome recognition of a health problem endemic to Canada’s aboriginal communities.

But to others, it was an endorsement of an unfair stereotype that natives have tried to shake for years.

Had it been anyone but Mr. Coon Come who said it, they suggest, the remarks would be vilified as bigoted and uninformed.

Indeed, former Newfoundland premier Brian Tobin was publicly castigated last year for saying pretty much the same thing as Mr. Coon Come when he suggested many aboriginal leaders in Labrador are “themselves abusers of alcohol and themselves in need of help.”

His remarks set off a rage of controversy, with Phil Fontaine, Mr. Coon Come’s predecessor at the AFN, denouncing the comments as “a stereotypical image of our people that’s so completely wrong.”

Today, the idea that natives are more susceptible to the mind-bending effects of alcohol remains so tenacious that even some natives believe it.

In her book Firewater Myths, anthropologist Joy Leland reported that many American Indians believe they have a physiological weakness to the effects of alcohol and that alcoholism is “in the blood.”

Ms. Leland concluded that young natives used the heredity explanation as an excuse for their own abuse of alcohol, even though studies show aboriginals do not metabolize alcohol much differently than people of other races.

In Canada, social-scientific data suggest that aboriginal communities are hit harder by substance abuse than non-aboriginal communities. But the data are far from conclusive.

In a major study of existing research, Health Canada admitted it is difficult to measure alcohol and drug use on reserves because of poor response rates and cultural differences that complicate surveys. This makes direct comparison to non-aboriginal populations difficult.

Instead, epidemiologists who study native alcoholism rely on data that show why natives get sick or die.

Injury and poisoning are leading causes of mortality and morbidity in aboriginal communities, both of which are consistent with alcohol abuse.

Few would argue, however, that alcohol is not a problem in Canada’s aboriginal communities.

A 1984 survey of First Nations communities in Manitoba found that 86 per cent rated alcohol as either a “serious problem” or “major problem.”

A study in Ontario the following year found that alcohol consumption was as much as 35 per cent higher in counties that have native reserves than those that don’t.

But other data assembled by Health Canada show that a lower proportion of aboriginals drink daily (two per cent versus three per cent of non-natives) and fewer drink weekly (35 per cent versus 46 per cent) than non-aboriginals. Also, almost twice as many aboriginals count themselves as teetotallers. About 15 per cent of aboriginals say they abstain from drinking, compared with eight per cent of other Canadians.

“There are indications that drinking is more tenacious among young people on reserves,” said Gary Roberts of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

“But there’s not a lot of good information.”

He says figures show that aboriginal youth are between twice and six times as likely to have alcohol problems as non-natives of the same age.

Mr. Roberts says another test of drinking problems, the rate of fetal alcohol syndrome, has also been tested in aboriginal communities, but it is difficult to compare to non-native rates because of a lack of data.

The perception of high rates of native alcoholism is partly grounded in reality, he says, but has been embellished by non-aboriginals who have limited exposure to reserves.

Non-natives are likely to form their opinion on native drinking from the people they encounter on city streets, he said.

“It comes from people’s perceptions, noticing that particularly off reserves in Western Canada you will find individuals of aboriginal descent living on the street.’

Off-reserve natives are believed to have a much higher rate of alcohol and drug dependency, but again, there is little reliable information to back up this theory. Data collection in urban centres has been even less rigorous than on the reserves.

Mr. Roberts said there is nothing but anecdotal evidence to support Mr. Coon Come’s assertion that there is an alcohol problem among the aboriginal political leadership.

“But if it does occur, it is going to limit their effectiveness to become active on the alcohol-abuse problems in their communities,” he said.

Bankers Call Shots on Manitoba’s Peguis First Nation, Say Upset Band Members

By Scott Edmonds

WINNIPEG (CP) – A bank is calling the financial shots on one of Manitoba’s largest First Nations, claims a group of dissident band members who blame unaccountable leadership for the problem.

After years of trying to get financial information out of Chief Louis Stevenson, the Concerned Citizens of Peguis finally managed to obtain an audit and other material earlier this year.

They found a $27 million current and capital debt. There was also a deal with the Royal Bank of Canada to borrow almost $12 million to keep the wolves at bay, with strict conditions on what financial decisions the band may now make. Nevertheless, band leadership is now busy delivering new furniture and appliances to band members on the eve of council elections, complains Herb Hudson.

“They give out furniture to select people,” he said Tuesday.
“This is how they obtain their votes.”

Hudson is seeking a seat on council in Friday’s band elections. His nephew Glenn Hudson is running against Stevenson for the position of chief of the reserve, which has an on-and off-reserve population of 7,000.

Off-reserve residents will be eligible to vote for the first time. But Hudson denies the release of the financial information is directly connected to the election. And he says despite the revelations, band members are reluctant to openly oppose Stevenson.

“There’s a lot of fear. People don’t want to speak out.”

The 300-square-kilometre reserve is located on rocky soil between Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg. Unemployment runs around 85 per cent and some residents complain of poor housing and an administration that looks after itself first.

Stevenson earns a tax-free salary of around $96,000 and racked up a personal travel bill last year of about $70,000, say the financial documents obtained by the dissidents.

Stevenson, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, has said the band’s money is well invested and the reserve has $90 million in assets, a claim Hudson says is ridiculous.

This isn’t the first time Stevenson as been accused of being autocratic and secretive. Last year he had the publisher of an aboriginal newspaper ejected from a meeting on the reserve with Premier Gary Doer when the publisher tried to raise questions of accountability.

Stevenson also led a group of protesters who attacked the Manitoba legislature in 1999 and were rebuffed with pepper spray by police.

The complaints about Stevenson occur just as MPs were set to discuss a resolution in the House of Commons that would shed a little light on the financial affairs of all Canada’s First Nations.

A Canadian Alliance motion would compel government to release First Nation audits currently kept confidential under a 12-year-old Federal Court ruling. The governing Liberals have said they will support the motion.

First Nations get about $7 billion annually.

Thomas Prince: Canada’s Forgotten Aboriginal War Hero

By Lloyd Dohla

The ten war medals of Canada’s most decorated aboriginal war hero Sergeant Thomas George Prince, a veteran of WWII and the Korean War, returned to the Prince family after being lost for over 30 years. Thomas Prince

“I was out in Halifax for the AFN meeting when I got the call that the medals were coming up for auction. We re-organized our committee and began to write letters for a fundraising media campaign and I did some radio talk shows,” said Jim Bear, nephew to the late Thomas Prince.

Money and pledges poured in from across the country. Bear, a prominent member of the Winnipeg aboriginal community has been after the medals since 1995, when the medals first re-surfaced after eighteen years after the death of Tommy Prince in November 1977. The medals were auctioned off by a Winnipeg coin dealer for $17,500 in 1997.

The ten medals were bought by the Prince family at a London, Ontario auction for $75,000 on the third bid.

The medals from WWII includes the King George Military Medal and the US Silver Star, which was presented to Prince at Buckingham Palace by King George VI, for his five years of outstanding service as a member of the First Special Service Force, a combined Canadian-US elite airborne unit that came to be known as the famed “Devil’s Brigade”.

The wartime experience of Sergeant Tommy Prince is the stuff of legend. He was a quiet ordinary man who had greatness thrust upon him by the force of one of the greatest conflicts in the history of Western civilization. It’s as if he was born and bred for one great task and then cast aside by the very society he fought for. He was a true son of his people and a great warrior.

His life story is told in the publication Manitobans in Profile: Thomas George Prince, 1981, Penguin Publishers Ltd., Winnipeg, Manitoba. It’s a fascinating piece of Canadianna.

Thomas George Prince was the great-great-grandson of the famous Chief Peguis, the Salteaux chief who led his people to the southwestern shore of Lake Winnipeg in the late 1790’s from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. One of eleven children, Tommy Prince was born in a canvas tent on a cold October day in 1915. When he was five, the family moved to the Brokenhead reserve just outside of Scanterbury, some 80 kilometers north of Winnipeg, where he learned his father’s skills as a hunter and trapper. As a teenager, Prince joined the Army cadets and perfected his skill with a rifle until he could put five bullets through a target the size of a playing card at 100 metres.

When war broke out in Europe in 1939, Prince volunteered at 24, and was accepted as a sapper in the Royal Canadian Engineers, which he served with for two years. In June 1940, he volunteered for paratrooper service. The training was hard and very few successfully completed. Prince was one of nine out of a hundred to win his wings from the parachute school at Ringway, near Manchester, England.

It wasn’t his ability to “jump” that made him a good paratrooper. Prince had a natural instinct for “ground”. He would land, creep forward on his belly with the speed and agility of a snake and take advantage of small depressions in an otherwise flat field to conceal himself from view. He was a crack shot with a rifle and crafty as a wolf in the field.

p. 19, Manitobans in Profile

Prince was promoted to Lance Corporal as a result of his impressive skills and in September, 1942, flew back to Canada to train with the first Canadian Parachute Battalion and was soon promoted to sergeant. It merged with the United States Special Force, the airborne unit known as the “Green Berets.” The First Special Service Force was an experiment in unity that was composed of 1600 of the “toughest men to be found in Canada and the United States.”

All the men were qualifies paratroopers and received training in unarmed combat, demolition, mountain fighting and as ski troops. They were described as “the best small force of fighting men ever assembled on the North American continent” and the “best god-damned fighters in the world and a terror to their enemies.”.

This combined elite force was first called into action in January 1943, when the Japanese occupied Kiska, an island in the Aleutian chain of islands near Alaska in the Pacific but the Japanese had already withdrew. They went to the Mediterranean, followed by the Sicily landing. By a daring maneuver, it captured strategic Monte la Difensa, an extremely difficult piece of ground. Fighting side by side with the US Fifth Army, it maintained an aggressive offensive throughout the Italian campaign. The liberation of Rome was the culmination of its daring exploits.

A natural hunter, Prince’s fieldcraft was unequalled and in recognition of unique abilities, he was made reconnaissance sergeant. At night, Prince would crawl toward the enemy lines, mostly alone, to listen to the Germans, estimate their numbers and report back to his battalion commander.

Before every attack, he was sent out to reconnoiter enemy positions and landscape formations that could provide cover for an attacking platoon.

Prince’s most daring exploit was on the Anzio beach-head where the Special Service Force had fought for ninety days without relief on the frontlines.

On February 8, 1944, Sergeant Prince went out alone on a voluntary assignment to run a radio wire 1500 metres into enemy territory to an abandoned farmhouse where he established an observation post. From his post, Prince could observe enemy troop movements unseen by the Allied artillery and radio back their exact locations. Armed with this knowledge, the Allied artillery could lay down an accurate barrage and successfully destroyed four enemy positions.

When the communications were abruptly cut off, Prince knew what had happened. Shellfire from the opposing armies had cut the line. Without concern for his own safety, Prince stripped off his uniform and dressed in farmer’s clothes left behind. At that time, many Italian farmers persisted in remaining on their farms despite the war that raged around them.

Acting as an angry farmer, Prince went out into the field shaking his fists and shouting at the German-Italian line and then to the Allied line. Taking a hoe out into the field, he pretended to work the field in plain view of the enemy line while he secretly followed the radio line to where the break had occurred. Pretending to tie his shoe, he secretly sliced the line together and continued to work the field before retiring back to the farmhouse where he continued to relay enemy positions. With the positions of the enemy revealed to the Allied artillery, the enemy soon withdrew.

Only then did Prince return to his CO, Lieutenant-Colonel Gilday who recommended Prince for the Military Medal for “exceptional bravery in the field.”

It was at Anzio that the Force earned the name “Devil’s Brigade.” In the diary of a dead German soldier was a passage that read, “The black devils are all around us every time we come into the line.”

The passage was a reference to the Force’s tactic of smearing their faces with black and sneaking past Axis lines under the cover of darkness and slitting the throats of enemy soldiers.

Following the capture of Italy, the Devil’s Brigade took part in the seizure of coastal islands during the invasion of southern France. The Force gained the mainland and proceeded up the Riviara until they reached mountainous defenses held by German forces.

To break the impasse, the Force would have to launch a surprise attack, destroy the enemy defensive line and quickly capture the reserve battalions before they could be brought up as reinforcements. To accomplish this daring move, the Force needed to know the exact location of enemy reserves and details of roads and bridges.

With only a private, Prince breached the enemy line and located the reserve encampment.. On the way back to report, Prince ands the private came upon a battle between some Germans and a squad of French partisans. From a rear position, the pair began to pick off the Germans until they withdrew as a result of high casualties.

When Prince made contact with the French leader, the Frenchman asked “Where is the rest of your company?” Pointing to the private, Prince said “Here.”

“Mon Dieu. I thought there were at least fifty of you!” said the astonished Frenchman.

The French commander recommended Prince for the Croix de Guerre, but the courier was killed en route and the message never reached the French Commander-in-Chief, Charles de Gaulle.

Returning to his own line, Prince was again sent out to the action on the frontline, despite his fatigue. Then, the enemy line was breached and an attack was launched on the German encampment reported by Prince. When the battle had ended, Prince had been without food or sleep for 72 hours, fought two battles and covered over 70 km on foot. For his role, the Americans awarded Prince the Silver Star.

One of his proudest moments and most cherished memories was when King George VI pinned on the Military Medal and the Silver Star, on behalf of President Roosevelt, and chatted with Prince about his wartime experiences.

Sergeant Thomas Prince was one of 59 Canadians awarded the US Silver Star and one of three who were awarded the King George Military Medal.

In December 1944, the Devil’s Brigade was disbanded. The war in Europe ended while Prince was in England. He returned to Canada and was honourably discharged on June 15, 1945.

Prince returned to civilian life on the Brokenhead reserve and found that few things had changed. He worked in a pulpwood camps and was a heavy drinker on weekends. In 1946, at a dance a woman attacked him with a broken beer bottle and badly cut his right cheek requiring 64 stitches.

It was a major turning point for Prince. He resolved to leave the reserve and get a job in Winnipeg.

With the assistance from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, he established his own cleaning service with a half-ton panel truck and cleaning supplies and, for a time, prospered.

At the time, the Manitoba Indian Association had been seeking an influential spokesperson and on December 1, 1946 elected him as chairman. The federal government had recently announced the formation of a Special Parlimentary Committee to revise the Indian Act.

The Manitoba Indian Association were concerned about the slow encroachment on their hunting and trapping rights. They wanted better housing, roads and educational opportunities for their children and financial assistance to start up businesses.

Prince arranged for friends to run his small, but profitable business. As chairman, he consulted extensively with aboriginal communities across Manitoba. He developed clear, well-documented arguments that made clear the Manitoba Association’s concerns in a brief presented to the committee on June 5, 1947.

Prince was overcome and frustrated by the legalese government officials threw out to counter his arguments. The committee hearings dragged on for two months, Prince became increasingly frustrated. He tried to persuade other aboriginal representatives to travel to London and appeal to King George VI whom he had met.

While some changes were made the Indian Act, life for Canada’s Indians remained unchanged. Prince came to realize from the committee hearings that Indian people lacked prestige in the eyes of post-war Canadian society, who generally looked down on Indian people. To change this widely-held view became somewhat of an obsession with him.

He returned to Winnipeg with the intention of building up his business but instead found that his “friends” had wrecked his truck in an accident and was sold for scrap metal. With no recourse, Prince returned to the lumber camps a and worked at a local concrete factory in the summers.

Then, at the age of 34, one week after the Canadian government announced its involvement in Korea, Tommy Prince again volunteered.

As part of its UN commitments, the Canadian government formed and trained the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI), which Prince joined as a seasoned veteran. He and other veterans were re-instated at their former ranks, in charge of training fresh recruits.

Tom Prince exalted in the military tradition of the 2PPCLI, where he was the hard-boiled sergeant whose legendary exploits were held in awe by the fresh recruits.

Following basic training at Wainwright, Alberta, the 2PPCLI sailed across the Pacific on December 7, 1950 and was the first Canadian unit to land and to become part of 27th Commonwealth Brigade in Korea.

Prince’s service on the Korean frontline was intense, but brief. Second in command of a rifle platoon, the 2PPCLI were part of a commonwealth effort to push back the North Korean forces from hill and mountain strongholds.

In February, 1951, Prince led a “snatch patrol” of eight men into enemy territory and captured two guarded machine gun posts as part of a demoralization effort. The tactic was repeated successfully many times with Prince in charge. But his commanding officers felt that Prince took too many chances with the men’s lives and eventually assigned him fewer patrols.

Prince was with the 2PPCLI when, together with the 3rd Royal Australian Regiment, were awarded the United States’ Presidential Unit Citation for distinguished service in the Kapyong valley on April 24 and 25, during one of the toughest actions of the war. The Patricias were to hold a defensive position on Hill 677 so that a South Korean division could withdraw during an attack by Chinese and North Korean forces. Although at one point the battalion was surrounded and re-supply of ammunition and emergency rations could only be accomplished by air, the Patricias held their ground. The enemy withdrew. Ten 2PPCLI men were killed and twenty-three were wounded during the battle.

His knees were subject to painful swelling as a result of the constant climbing of the steep Korean country side. Following a medical examination in May 1951, he was hospitalized and then assigned administrative duties. In August, he returned to Canada.

Prince remained in active service as an administrative sergeant at Camp Bordon in Ontario.

His knees responded to the added rest and in March 1952, Prince volunteered for a second tour of duty and sailed for Korea in October with the 3rd Battalion PPCLI.

In November, the training of the 3PPCLI was interrupted by fighting on “the Hook”, a key position of the Sami-chon River that overlooked much of the rear areas of the UN forces.

When a Chinese battalion gained a foothold on the forward positions of another UN unit on November 18, the 3rd PPCLI was ordered in to help defend the sector. By dawn, of the following day, with the assistance of the 3rd Patricias, the UN unit recaptured the post. Five Patricias were killed and nine wounded, one of whom was Sergeant Prince.

He recovered from his injury, but began to have continual difficulties with his arthritic knees He spent several weeks in the hospital between January and April. In July, 1953, the Korea Armistice was signed and Prince returned to Canada. He remained in the army until September 1954, when he was discharged with a small pension because of his bad knees.

Unskilled and unable to fit into the post-war boom, Prince retained only menial jobs and was the subject of scorn from white workers ignorant of his wartime gallantry. His skills as a hunter that made him one of the best soldiers had no value in the urban centre of Winnipeg in the early 1950’s.

In many ways, Tom’s problems were typical of a certain type of returning soldier. These men had been unskilled workers prior to joining the army. From being in low socio-economic position, they suddenly became respected and honoured men who wore a uniform and commanded attention. Men like Prince were promoted to the rank of non-commissioned officers and had authority over others. When they were demobilized from the army, all the power and respect which their uniforms generated suddenly disappeared.

-p.44, Manitobans in Profile

Nevertheless, Prince met and married Verna Sinclair shortly after and had five children together. By the early 1960’s, nothing had really changed for Indian people. Prince still suffered from discrimination at the jobs he could get. Often he simply quit. His arthritic knees got worse so he drank more. All of this led to money problems and he and Verna separated in 1964. His five children had to be placed in foster homes by the Children’s Aid Society. Prince tried to keep in touch with his children but they were often moved to other foster homes. Only his daughter, Beryl, who remained in one foster home for seven years could he keep in touch with and he visited monthly and never gave trying to keep in touch with his other children. In the years before his death, Prince “was a truly forgotten man.” It was during these years that he pawned his prized medals.

Tommy Prince died at Winnipeg’s Deer Hospital on November 1977, at the age of 62. At his funeral, a delegation of Princess Patricias served as pallbearers and draped a Canadian flag over his coffin for the memorial service attended by active soldiers, veterans and representatives from France, Italy and United States, friends and family.

As the coffin was lowered onto the ground, Beryl and Beverly Prince, Tommy’s daughters, shed tears. When the officer in charge presented Beverly with the Canadian flag which had been draped over the coffin the flow of tears increased. Who were all these strangers, both military and civilian, honouring her father with apparent sadness and great respect? Where had they been these past years when her father, crippled from machine- gun wounds, was forced to do menial jobs to keep alive? Were the honour and respect given only after his death? Did these people really care or was this just a colourful pageant performed by white people for entertainment?

– p. 6 Manitobans in Profile

The ten medals of Sergeant Thomas Prince have been verified as the originals by the War Museum in Ottawa and will be held in trust for the Prince family at the Museum of Man and Nature in Winnipeg.