We Will Remember Why

Create: 11/09/2023 - 00:48

all photos were supplied by family

James Kataquapit, First World War veteran who was part of the Canadian Forestry Corp. A former Chief of Attawapiskat, he is pictured here in 1950.

James McGrath, Second World War veteran, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI), Canadian Infantry pictured here in 1950. He is a wounded veteran of the Battle of the Scheldt in the autumn of 1944.

John Chookomolin, died at 22 years of age in 1917 during First World War as part of the Canadian Forestry Corp. A member of Attawapiskat FN, he is pictured here in 1917.

Patrick McGrath, died at 18 years of age in October 15, 1944 in Belgium during the Battle of the Scheldt in the Second World War. He was part of the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada. He is pictured here in a newspaper image from 1944.

November 11 or what we refer to as Remembrance Day is a very sad time for myself and my partner Mike. I have been doing a lot of research on my great-grandfather John Chookomolin and my grandfather James Kataquapit who along with 22 other young men from Attawapiskat were literally kidnapped by an army recruiter back in 1917 and taken to Europe to participate in the Great War. My great-grandfather John did not return however grandfather James did make it back after the war. To hear more on this story visit my website at www.nativeveterans.com

Imagine what life was like for people on remote First Nations back in 1917. There was little or no communication with the outside world, my people only spoke their own Mushkego Cree language and they had no idea where they were going or what was being asked of them when an army recruiter found his way to Attawapiskat. This group of young men then were taken for training in the south and later boarded a ship to England. The Spanish flu was circulating at the time and John got ill and died in England in the outskirts of London near Englefield Green. Nobody bothered to notify my family of this and we had no idea what had happened to him until the late 1980s when a family member looked into this mystery and found out what had occurred. In the mean time my family had to suffer the loss of a husband, father, brother and community member and that meant a lot of sorrow and hard times.

My partner Mike’s father James had a difficult life growing up in Toronto in the 1920s and he and his brothers ended up in foster care. When the Second Word War was well on its way he was recruited at the age of 18 to join up and he was accompanied by his younger brother Patrick who lied about his age and although he was only 16 he was accepted into the army. They were given limited training and then shipped out to follow up on the D-Day invasion by the allied troops where they were involved in the long and dangerous town to town fighting through France and Belgium.

In the fall of 1944 they had made there way to near Antwerp, Belgium and entered the fierce fighting in the Battle Of The Scheldt. That battle is known as a terrible loss of Canadian lives as they went up against experienced German troops holding ground in a muddy port area. Patrick was killed in the early stage of that battle and James was badly injured.

James made it back to Canada, met Mike’s mom and fathered Mike and his sister. He made an effort to have some type of normal life but he suffered from shell shock or what we now refer to as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and he ended up making a lot of bad choices which put him in the prison system for most of his life. Mike knew nothing of his father until much later in his life and at one point had to deal with the fact that James had been killed by a couple of young OPP officers after a chase involving a stolen car in the late 1970s. As you can imagine this reality had a huge affect on my partner Mike and his family.

We are currently working on a project dedicated to my grandfather and great-grandfather as well as Mike’s father and his uncle Patrick. Through our research we had really felt we have fallen down a rabbit hole. We have discovered through a lot of work that in fact the Second World War came about mainly because the very powerful corporations and leaders of the time decided they wanted nothing to do with social democracy, labour unions, communists, Jewish people, intellectuals, many minorities and the disenfranchised. The very wealthy assisted through funding and expertise in the setting up of fascist right wing regimes in Germany, Italy, Spain and many other countries to make sure this talk of sharing wealth was killed off.

After discovering all of this information we continued to uncover more and also realized that the western governments had hired on many of the Nazi Intelligence officers after the war to help fight Communist Russia. Post World War Two intelligence organizations were dedicated to making sure any form of democratic socialism was not going to exist in this world. As a matter of fact Nazi war criminals were allowed to immigrate to many countries because they were considered anti communist. In Canada we are still waiting for the government to release the names of all of the Nazis who were allowed to enter Canada. As many researchers have pointed out from this period, it was far easier to be a fascist or a Nazi after the war than it was to be a communist.

We have realized very well that war is always about money, always about resources and about the very rich and powerful getting what they want even though that means the destruction of cities and the killing of millions of men, women and children.

In the name of John Chookomolin, James Kataquapit, James McGrath and Patrick McGrath we will remember and we will do our best to tell the truth about what happened to all our brave young men and women who left their good lives and were put in pure hell full of violence, death, terror and loss. We will remember why.


Date Published: 
Thursday, November 9, 2023 - 00:46