news | Friday November 4, 2022
November 8 marks National Indigenous Veterans’ Day.
The contributions of Indigenous soldiers often go undiscussed and underrecognized, as does the profound and systemic discrimination they faced – including having to lie about their heritage in order to enlist, having their status revoked, and being denied benefits when they returned home. This year, in recognition of Indigenous Veterans’ Day, we would like to recommend the play Redpatch by Métis theatre artist Raes Calvert and Sean Harris Oliver.
Redpatch follows Private Jonathon Woodrow, an Indigenous soldier fighting on the Western Front in WWI whose hunting and wilderness survival experience gains him notoriety as a highly efficient trench raider. As the war drags on and returning home seems increasingly unlikely, Private Woodrow and his division strain under the pressures and constant perils of war. Shedding overdue light on the Indigenous contribution to Canada’s Great War effort, Redpatch was a finalist for the Playwright Guild of Canada’s 2017 Carol Bolt award.
Find an excerpt from Redpatch below:
I know you’re upset with me, Half-Blood, but we’re doing
something important here.
The men respect us.
No, they feel the same way you would feel towards a cougar in the
forest, and that isn’t respect. It’s fear.
You’re wrong. We have their respect. Respect from the whites.
When did we ever have that before? This war gave us that.
Do you know what my grandmother said about war? She told me,
“War drowns us.”
A faint whistle is heard off in the distance.
Unflinching in its storytelling, Redpatch spotlights the tremendous impact of Indigenous soldiers on Canada’s Great War effort. This utterly moving book, which includes an eight-page graphic novel, is an ideal place to learn about World War I through an Indigenous lens.