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The Métis in Western Canada: O-Tee-Paym-Soo-Wuk

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Boer War

Métis soldiers next served the British Empire in 1900 as members of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Cavalry), the Royal Canadians. In January 1900, Donald Smith (Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal) offered to raise and equip a mounted regiment at his own expense to serve in the South African or "Boer" War. His Regiment was recruited largely from cowboys and frontiersmen of Western Canada and members of the North West Mounted Police (NWMP). Command of "Strathcona's Horse" was given to the now famous Superintendent of the NWMP, Sir Sam B. Steele.

Lord Strathcona's Horse arrived in Cape Town, South Africa on 10 April 1900 and quickly became essential to the British Army. They were employed as scouts because of their background as frontiersmen and cowboys, the Regiment was involved in numerous skirmishes and bloody battles against the Boer mounted riflemen. The bravery of the soldiers of the Regiment was best illustrated by the actions of Sgt Arthur Richardson during an ambush at Wolver Spruit. Upon seeing one of his soldiers fall wounded from his horse, Sgt Richardson rode back under a hail of Boer gunfire, retrieved the wounded man and brought him to safety. Sgt Richardson received the Victoria Cross for valour.

At the end of the war, in Queen Victoria's memory, King Edward VII presented the King's Colours to the Regiment. This honour is normally awarded to infantry units. Upon its return to Canada the Regiment was lauded for its contributions and service in the Boer War. Unfortunately, soon after the Regiment was disbanded. In 1909 it was reformed and named Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians).

Other regiments also served in South Africa, and while much is known of the battles, scouting and other contribution of Canadian troops, it is a much more difficult thing to talk about the specific service of Métis soldiers. They were not allowed to sign up as Métis, but only as Canadian. There is evidence, in old newspaper stories, that First Nations men were not allowed to service at this time, even though they apparently requested that right.

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Boer War




Métis Veterans

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