William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

LEST WE FORGET THE ABORIGINAL VET

Claude Petit won’t accept defeat
Down at Place de Vimy #1 street
Requested Brown and Matchee be taken down
Claude received little joy in Ottawa town

They don’t want Metis on the CWM board?
This oversight should be deplored!
Armchair experts at the war museum
Depict Native soldiers as cruel and mean!

The best man at my wedding was Orval Chartrand
Orval hailed from Manitoba, a Northern Cree Band
Born on a trapline, Orv spoke French and Cree
He was my best friend in the QOR of C

An invitation should have been sent forthwith
For the funeral of Claude’s friend Smokey Smith
There are some things Canadians should not ignore
Like our Native Soldiers who went to war!

The war museum should start today
And make a huge Sergeant Prince display
Take down those pictures of Matchee and Brown
Hey! Honour our Native Soldiers in Ottawa town!

Author’s Note: For my soldier friends: Ken Umperville, Tom Eagle, Masawanakona Joe, Littlefort Baptiste, Orval Chartrand, Moose Bourassa, Big Jim Sinclair, Longmire, Breed Brueyere, Len Desjarlais, Rod King, CQMS Louis Reil, and the many other tribal and metis soldiers I served with in support of Canada and HMQE2.

Clahowya
Billy

A put-down of all Aboriginal Veterans

Aboriginal Veterans President Asks War Museum to Take Down Paintings

Peter Worthington
By Peter Worthington
Another voice of protest is being raised against those paintings in Ottawa’s new Canadian War Museum (CWM) showing torture in Somalia.

Claude Petit may not register with most people – and certainly doesn’t seem to resonate with Joe Geurts, CEO of CWM. But Petit is special; his voice carries weight.

He holds the Order of Canada and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit. He’s been Saskatoon’s Citizen of the Year (1994) and he, his brother and uncle fought with the Princess Pats in Korea. In the Riel rebellion, his relatives fought against the Queen’s Own Rifles and RCR at Batoche.

Claude was both the Canadian army’s heavyweight boxing champ and the only Canadian to win the British Army Heavyweight Boxing Championship (1964), and is in the Boxing Hall of Fame.

More significantly, as far as the War Museum and its controversial paintings are concerned, Petit is long-time President of the National Aboriginal Veterans Association.

Petit is one of many who are offended that a painting of Master Corporal Clayton Matchee, a Metis, throttling a young Somali with a baton is prominently displayed in the CWM along with a portrait of another Metis, Trooper Kyle Brown, who was sentenced to five years in Matchee’s torture killing of Shidane Arone in 1993.

Petit wrote Joe Geurts and wondered why the only Canadian soldiers singled out for crimes by the museum were both Metis, as if Indian blood produced killers. Geurts wrote back in what Petit feels was condescendingly, saying the paintings didn’t malign aboriginals, but could be anyone.

“Except they aren’t ‘anyone,’” says Petit. “They are both aboriginals and have nothing to do with ‘war,’ and can be seen as prejudicial towards native people. I… we aboriginals… want them removed.”

So do many other veterans.

Claude Petit is a friend of mine. We served in the same battalion, and he is as thorough a Canadian as one can find.

After 16 years as a soldier, Claude opened a successful sporting business and worked with Aboriginal kids, raising over $1 million to that end. He’s led the way in commemorating Aboriginal veterans, and is President of the Metis Friendship Association, respected everywhere.

“They say the intention is to show warts and all, but this Somali incident isn’t about warts, it’s a put-down of aboriginal soldiers.”

Petit isn’t hypersensitive, but takes no guff from anyone. He’s admittedly hurt and offended at the cavalier treatment of the war museum towards Indians – commemorated only by the Matchee/Brown portraits.

He (and others) feels the CWM should pay tribute to the late Sgt. Tommy Prince, Canada’s most decorated Aboriginal in WWII, who was wounded in the Korean Battle of the Hook as was Petit. But nothing.

Towards the end of the Korean War, Prince was sniper sergeant under my command when I was battalion intelligence officer.

Petit is also offended that as the representative of all Aboriginal veterans, he wasn’t invited to the ceremony honouring the lying in state of our last Victoria Cross winner, Smokey Smith, in the House of Commons.

“I see that omission as an insult to all Aboriginal soldiers,” says Claude. “I knew Smokey. We attended a lot of ceremonies in Italy, Europe, and Korea and had a lot of laughs. It hurts that I and Aboriginal veterans were ignored at ceremonies marking his death.”

Petit accepts that this was probably bureaucratic oversight and not personal or intended to insult Indians, “but you never know.”

Indians take to soldiering. Claude was a tough infantry soldier and not as resigned as Prince, who died in 1977 alone and forgotten by all except wartime comrades.

Claude Petit is no Tommy Prince, and doesn’t submit quietly. He’s more sophisticated and fights for what he thinks is right. “I wanted to be on the board advising the war museum, but they didn’t want veterans who’d been there,” Petit recalls.

“I don’t intend to let this matter drop, and will keep fighting until those paintings are removed.”