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

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - John Joe Sark (Dr. John Joe Sark, LLD Keptin of the Mi’kmaq Grand Coun­cil for the Dis­trict of Epekwitk (P.E.I.)

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.

Ge­orge Fran­cis,

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

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