Saskatchewan First Nation launches book that documents its veterans

The Kahkewistahaw First Nation has nearly 30 members who have served with the Canadian Armed Forces and now the First Nation has compiled its veterans' stories in a new book.

'It's a common story... It's all for freedom that the people served willingly and voluntarily'

A new book put together by Ted Whitecalf documents the veterans of Kahkewistahaw First Nation and will be launched on Saturday to coincide with the community's Remembrance Day service. Here the front and back of the book cover is displayed. (Ted Whitecalf/Sweetgrass Records)

Indigenous people have been an important part of Canada's Armed Forces since the time of the First World War and one Saskatchewan First Nation has now compiled its veterans' stories in a book.

The Kahkewistahaw First Nation, located approximately 150 kilometres east of Regina, has nearly 30 members who have served with the Canadian Armed Forces.

"History needs to be written down, it needs to be told," said Evan Taypotat, chief of the Kahkewistahaw First Nation, in an interview with CBC Saskatchewan's Morning Edition.

"I believe right now there's a lot of younger people in our reserve that have that warrior spirit in them and hopefully they can be a warrior down the road."

'Long overdue'

Taypotat himself served with the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. He is featured in the new book because of his service from 2009 to 2012, which included a mission in Afghanistan in 2011.

The stories in the book, titled Courageous Warriors of Kahkewistahaw First Nation, were collected and compiled by Ted Whitecalf, who has a long-standing working relationship with the First Nation.

"We started about five or six years ago," said Whitecalf, who is a member of Sweetgrass First Nation.

"In the last couple years we went plowing through it [to] get this book out. It's long overdue and I think the people were very happy to participate.

"It's a common story... It's all for freedom that the people served willingly and voluntarily."

Jumping out of airplanes

The book shares thoughts from each veteran about what the Armed Forces has done for each of them and the hard times they had to go through, said Whitecalf.

"A particular one is of a paratrooper who lives in Prince Albert now, his name is Ross Alexson," Whitecalf told CBC's Saskatoon Morning.

"He joined and says, 'I'm a small guy but size don't matter... I became addicted [to] jumping out of airplanes.'"

The book has its official launch Saturday at Kahkewistahaw First Nation to coincide with the reserve's Remembrance Day event. Whitecalf said the book will be available through the First Nation.


Brad Bellegarde

Reporter for CBC Indigenous based in Saskatchewan

Born and raised in Treaty 4 Territory, he holds an Indian Communication Arts Certificate from the First Nations University of Canada and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Regina. Follow him on Twitter @BBellegardeCBC

with files from CBC Radio's Morning Edition and Saskatoon Morning