Charles Henry Byce honoured with bronze statue in Chapleau, Ont.
Byce's mother was Moose Cree and his father was a highly decorated veteran of WWI.
A bronze statue honouring the most decorated Indigenous veteran from the Second World War was unveiled Saturday in Chapleau.
Charles Henry Byce was born in the northeastern Ontario town and survived residential schools.
He struggled to be enlisted in the Canadian military because he was considered small, at 5-foot-6 and 125 pounds.
His son Rick says his father never talked about his experience at war.
"I know there were times when I would come home, late at night, I would look in the kitchen window and he would be at the table by himself, and he would be talking or crying," he said.
"And so we knew not to bother him ... let him work it out. But he never told us about battles. He never told us about how he won anything. He just never talked about it.
Rick Byce says he has only recently learned of some of his father's amazing achievements, including saving the lives of several men in his platoon.
Byce served in the Lake Superior Regiment and received the Military Medal for Valour in January of 1945.
He also received the Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery for leading his men into a fierce battle in Germany.
Charles Byce's father, Harry Byce, was a highly decorated veteran of the First World War and his Cree mother, Louisa Saylors, was from Moose Factory.
According to a news release from the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Charles Byce's father earned the same distinctions, earning them a unique place in Canada's history as the only father and son to receive these honours during two World Wars.
"We are proud to honour the distinguished service of Charles Byce, who overcame the injustices of the Indian Residential School system to become our most highly-decorated Indigenous warrior during the Second World War," said NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler.
"Many of our warriors have come to the defence of Canada and its interests during world wars and conflicts around the globe. This proud tradition is carried on in the spirit of Charles Byce by our members who serve in the Canadian Forces, police services and the Canadian Rangers, who put themselves in harm's way in the defence of others."
With files from Marina von Stackelberg. Edited and packaged by Wendy Bird.