Four Mi’kmaq die in Great War
In First World War, 34 out of 64 male Mi’kmaqs from Lennox Island enlisted in the Armed Forces
November 11, 2018, is the 100th anniversary of the armistice which ended the Great War. Our Mi’kmaq veterans of Prince Edward Island willingly joined the Canadian Armed Forces to fight in the First World War, Second World War and conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Afghanistan.
During the First World War, 34 out of 64 male Mi’kmaqs from Lennox Island enlisted in the armed forces, distinguishing themselves, particularly in the Battle of Amiens. Four of these men, Privates Charles Caplin, Peter Knockwood, John W. Labobe and Louis Toney were killed in action. They made the supreme sacrifice. We will not forget them.
John James Sark was the first Mi’kmaq to answer the call of duty when the First World War broke out. In his own words: “When the call of the colours reached Lennox Island, I was 27, teaching on the Micmac Reservation. My father, chief of his people, wanted to know my intentions. There seemed to be plenty of reasons for England’s going to war again.
“The following day I declared my intention to enlist and departed for Fredericton, N.B., where I entered the army, took a short course of training and went to Halifax, the point of embarkation for England, where I joined the 24th Battery as an NO.
“Before leaving Prince Edward Island, certain that it meant farewell for keeps, I renounced all hereditary rights to the chieftainship of the Mimacs in favor of my brother Jacob Sark, who upon the death of my father assumed the title. I reached England in Sept. 1915, and was billeted at Dover Castle, Dover.”
“Joe Tuplin had told me that one day a Mi’kmaq soldier asked for his assistance in translating what a British officer was charging him with. The officer asked Matthew Bernard, ‘soldier why didn’t you salute me’. Through his interpreter Joe Louie told him, “I thought you were from the Salvation
Army.’ Because the officer had red stripes on his pants and hat, Joe Louie thought he was from the Salvation Army.”
Dan Mitchell was only 14 when he ran away from home to join the army. He walked to Summerside and took the train to Amherst, where he joined the Canadian army. His mother, Mrs. Anthony Mitchell, sent her brother, Jacob Sark to Halifax to try and persuade his nephew to return home. However, when Jacob Sark saw how proud his nephew was in his army uniform and obvious desire to fight for his country, he did not have the heart to request Dan to return home. Mitchell served overseas during both the First and Second World War.
In the Second World War, 34 Mi’kmaq men from Lennox Island enlisted and seven enlisted in the
Korean conflict. The following are the Mi’kmaq who were killed in action during the Second
World War: Pte.
Pte. Linus Sark and Pte. Daniel Peters.
Stephen Labobe was the last Mi’kmaq World War II veteran. He died on August 8, 1995. Stephen was born at Lennox Island.
The late Premier Angus MacLean said this about the Mi’kmaq veterans in July 1981: “On Sunday, July 26, the annual St. Anne’s Sunday celebrations, an event of long standing popularity, will be held on Lennox Island. This event named after St. Anne, the patron saint of Maritime (aboriginals), is one of important spiritual significance, recalling as it does the establishing of the Mission of Saint Anne at Lennox Island in the early 1800s. A special feature of this annual festival this year will be a tribute to the many Indian war veterans from the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War. There are very few groups of people in our country who match the record of the Mi’kmaq from Lennox Island in their contribution to the war effort, and I would like to commend the Lennox Island Band for its decision to include this tribute as a part of its schedule of events.” -- Premier Angus MacLean
Charlie Caplin, First World War
Louis Toney, First World War
Daniel Bernard, First World War 1