Canadian History WW1 Essay

This essay has a total of 1504 words and 6 pages.


Canadian History WW1




The article “Race and Recruitment In World War 1: Enlistment of Visible Minorities in the
Canadian Expeditionary Force*” Written by author James W. ST G. Walker that can be found
in the Canadian Historial Review (March 1989 Edition) discusses the discrimination against
minorities during World War 1. Outlining the events from 1914 through 1917 that depict
this injustice against visible minorities. It gives a detailed view of changing
attitutudes of government and recruiting officials towards visible minorities and their
position and value to the war efffort. James W. ST G. Walker goes about trying to prove
that while World War 1 may have been a step forward for both women and Eastern Europe it
was anything but for the visible minorities of Canada. World War 1 only strengthened the
beliefs of a white man’s world by being a white man’s war.

At the onset of the war in 1914 the enlistment rate was very high. Due to both patriotic
and economic factors the initial numbers were very high. This continued for over a year.
During this time the requirments to enlist in the war included an unofficail race
criteria. No visible minorities were welcomed to join the war. It was the unofficial
opinion of recruiting officials that visible minorities, such as Blacks and Native
Indians, could not fight in a white mans war. These minorities were outraged. They
demanded to know why they were being turned away. Though it was clear that they were being
excluded for racial reasons in 1914 they were offered no remedies to these unjust
circumstances. The Japenese, in particular, became more persistant in their attempts to
enlist. It was believed that winning the battle to join the war effort would help win the
war against discrimination. Although there was still the strong belief that whites and
black could not fight together the insistance of the black communities to be allowed to
participate in the war led to the creation of a seperate black platoon. In 1915 the
Japenese community tryed to put together a segragated Japenese unit only to be rejected by
Militia headquartes.

In the spring of 1915 a new policy on recruitment was instituted. Now any patriotic person
or group could form a battalion. Even this was not enough to fill the growing need for
men. So in 1916 the active recruiting of visible minorities was started. All minorities
were recruited by officials who belived that all visible minorites would be later
transferrred to special units. By the summer of 1916 minorities were being actively
recruited for infantry battalions. At the same time visible minorities were also being
recruited for non-combat labour. Two years into the war the policy on recruiting visible
minorities had been completely turned around. Visible minorities were now being welcomed
and actively recruited. This change had come too late. The visible minorities were now
hesitating to join the war effort. The few Blacks and Native Indians who had slipped
through the discriminatort system to make it to the war were sending back stories of
unfair treatment and horrible conditions. The special units designated for visible
minorites who had been preparing for combat were constantly being stalled from going to
Europe. Those who did make it to Europe were for the most part not put in combat
situations once they arrived in Europe. They were seperated and used for manual labor.
Visible minorities were now questioning the Militia and their motives behind welcoming
visible minorities into the army. The saw what was happening to pre-existing battalians
of minorities. They were being seperated to fill gaps left by casualties or reduced to
trench diggers. The demotion of No.2 to a construction company was a grave diappointment
that left Black minorities in particular distrustful and unwilling to volunteer for
service.

During this time the casualty rate was rising. There was a great need for recruits. So
with the drop in volunteers the Canadian government turned to consription. After having
been turned away multiple times and then being treated badly, the minorities were
outraged. Native Indians were very loud in their refusal to register for consciption.
Their argument was they were not considered citizens nor were they afforded the rights of
citizens so why should they be forced into consciption. The government was forced to give
them immunity from conscription. The Japanese were the next to follow. They too were not
citizens. Although they were considered landed Canadians; they did not have the same
rights as whites. They two were given immunity. Blacks were unfortunately not able to
benefit from these cases. They were considered citizens and therefore they were forced to
register for conscription. The blacks used this opportunilty to once again try and
salvage they position in the war. They insisted if they were going to be forced to comply
Continues for 3 more pages >>




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