Francis Pegahmagabow

As you may be aware tomorrow (June 21st) is National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada. 

Our country has a long way to go when it comes to acknowledging the way that it has treated and continues to treat the Indigenous people. Part of that is celebrating the impact that Indigenous people have had on us historically. 

While Canadians are for the most part thought of as peace-loving and gentle people. we do have a number of war heroes. One of those that hasn't received as much attention as he should is Francis Pegahmagabow.

Francis was born on March 9, 1891, in the Shawanaga nation in Ontario. Following the death of both of his parents, he was later raised by his grandfather of sorts (Noah Nabimanyquod had also raised Francis' dad after his parent's death) in the same nation. 

Francis worked many jobs around his nation and excelled in his studies and music. In 1914, at the start of the first world war, Indigenous people were discouraged from joining the war. In 1916, after many casualties, the Canadian government changed its mind and instead encouraged Indigenous men to take the call. Not waiting for the government to say he was good enough, Francis signed up for service at a local recruitment office in August of 1914. 

Fighting in Ypres and the battles of Mount Sorrell, Somme, and Passchendaele, Francis soon gained a reputation as a brutally effective sniper and was credited after the war with 378 kills. He was awarded numerous awards and bars for his bravery and service. He was also an amazing scout and caught 300 German POWs. 

Despite being shot and receiving wounds in his leg, Francis kept fighting and eventually wound up with life lung problems due to pneumonia from gas attacks. He didn't return home from the fight until 1919. He spent the rest of his life fighting for Indigenous people and their rights. He served as chief of his nation. 

Canadian author Joseph Borden was inspired by Francis and his story. He wrote a book called Three Day Road that was released in 2001, the main character is based on Francis. 

I will be back tomorrow with another Indigenous person and how they impacted our nation. 

Shopping Corner

Three Day Road

Sounding Thunder: The Stories of Francis Pegahmagabow


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