How many First Nation Canadians served in World War 2?
There were a number of reasons why only a relatively small
number of Aboriginals served in the Canadian armed forces during
WW2. The total number is thought to have been about 20,000, out of
a total armed forces manpower pool of one million, one hundred
thousand men. In 1939 the official census of Aboriginals showed
about 200,000 in total. That was all the men women and children who
were recognised as " Canadian Indians ", by the Canadian
Government. Language and litteracy ability, and low levels of
education, were the main reasons why Aboriginals were not more
numerous in the three services. Those that did get in were mainly
directed to the Army, where their outdoor skills could be used.
Many others wound up as labourers, loading or unloading trucks,
ships, and stocking warehouses, which did not require much formal
education. Only a very tiny minority ended up in either the Air
Force or the Navy, where the great majority of the jobs were highly
technical, and required at least a high school, and in some cases,
a University education, for a man to become fully qualified in the
trade. Aboriginals in the Air Force amd the Navy, were trained as
cook's helpers, or basic cleaners, or other menial jobs.