Canadian History Ww1 Essay, Research Paper
The article “Race and Recruitment In World War 1: Enlistment of Visible Minorities in the Canadian Expeditionary Force*” Written by author James W. ST G. Walker that can be found in the Canadian Historial Review (March 1989 Edition) discusses the discrimination against minorities during World War 1. Outlining the events from 1914 through 1917 that depict this injustice against visible minorities. It gives a detailed view of changing attitutudes of government and recruiting officials towards visible minorities and their position and value to the war efffort. James W. ST G. Walker goes about trying to prove that while World War 1 may have been a step forward for both women and Eastern Europe it was anything but for the visible minorities of Canada. World War 1 only strengthened the beliefs of a white man’s world by being a white man’s war.
At the onset of the war in 1914 the enlistment rate was very high. Due to both patriotic and economic factors the initial numbers were very high. This continued for over a year. During this time the requirments to enlist in the war included an unofficail race criteria. No visible minorities were welcomed to join the war. It was the unofficial opinion of recruiting officials that visible minorities, such as Blacks and Native Indians, could not fight in a white mans war. These minorities were outraged. They demanded to know why they were being turned away. Though it was clear that they were being excluded for racial reasons in 1914 they were offered no remedies to these unjust circumstances. The Japenese, in particular, became more persistant in their attempts to enlist. It was believed that winning the battle to join the war effort would help win the war against discrimination. Although there was still the strong belief that whites and black could not fight together the insistance of the black communities to be allowed to participate in the war led to the creation of a seperate black platoon. In 1915 the Japenese community tryed to put together a segragated Japenese unit only to be rejected by Militia headquartes.
In the spring of 1915 a new policy on recruitment was instituted. Now any patriotic person or group could form a battalion. Even this was not enough to fill the growing need for men. So in 1916 the active recruiting of visible minorities was started. All minorities were recruited by officials who belived that all visible minorites would be later transferrred to special units. By the summer of 1916 minorities were being actively recruited for infantry battalions. At the same time visible minorities were also being recruited for non-combat labour. Two years into the war the policy on recruiting visible minorities had been completely turned around. Visible minorities were now being welcomed and actively recruited. This change had come too late. The visible minorities were now hesitating to join the war effort. The few Blacks and Native Indians who had slipped through the discriminatort system to make it to the war were sending back stories of unfair treatment and horrible conditions. The special units designated for visible minorites who had been preparing for combat were constantly being stalled from going to Europe. Those who did make it to Europe were for the most part not put in combat situations once they arrived in Europe. They were seperated and used for manual labor. Visible minorities were now questioning the Militia and their motives behind welcoming visible minorities into the army. The saw what was happening to pre-existing battalians of minorities. They were being seperated to fill gaps left by casualties or reduced to trench diggers. The demotion of No.2 to a construction company was a grave diappointment that left Black minorities in particular distrustful and unwilling to volunteer for service.
During this time the casualty rate was rising. There was a great need for recruits. So with the drop in volunteers the Canadian government turned to consription. After having been turned away multiple times and then being treated badly, the minorities were outraged. Native Indians were very loud in their refusal to register for consciption. Their argument was they were not considered citizens nor were they afforded the rights of citizens so why should they be forced into consciption. The government was forced to give them immunity from conscription. The Japanese were the next to follow. They too were not citizens. Although they were considered landed Canadians; they did not have the same rights as whites. They two were given immunity. Blacks were unfortunately not able to benefit from these cases. They were considered citizens and therefore they were forced to register for conscription. The blacks used this opportunilty to once again try and salvage they position in the war. They insisted if they were going to be forced to comply with consciption all blacks should be sent to No.2 so that they could be upgraded from a construction company to a battalion once again. The order went out to all commanding officers to transfer all black troops to No.2. The order was complyed with and the No.2 Company was soon preparing to go overseas. In May they were once again let down when it was announced that would not be going anywhere. After one more try by Rev. William White Captain of No.2 it was finally agreed that No.2 would be sent over. Over seas there was confusion as to what role visible minorities were to have. The few Japanese who had made it were allowed into combat, while the Native Indians where divided some were put to work doing manual labour while others were put to work in a pioneering battalion. As for blacks, those who were part of a regular battalion because they had volunbtarily joined the war encountered few problems. But the members of No.2 were not so lucky. Upon arriving in France they were once again demoted to a construcon company forced to perfor manual labour.
James W. ST G Walker writes an article that clearly outlines the actions of a Governement that is racists and manipulitive. James W. ST G. Walker uses mulitiple sources but focuses his article the material on the National Archives of Canada. From which he finds multilple memos and letters from parties directly involved n creating and changing the unofficial recruiting criteria during World War 1. Reviewing these documents from 1914-1917 helps the author to present a balanced and acurate desciption of the events as they unfolded. In examining his article you can find many direct quotes and references to the documents he used from the National Archives of Canada.
The article is written with a very clean style. The author is quite simple in his descriptions of events and facts. He is focused on getting his point across and this comes across well in the article. The events are told in chronological order and mixed with quotes and references to specific memo’s and documents making the information flow easily while still reinforcing the importance of each event. The author does not take for granted the readers knowledge of the events or time period. Every point and happening are clearly and well explained. This is to both the authors and the readrs advantage. The author is rewarded with a reader that clearly understands and enjoys the article. The reader is rewared with a clear grasp of the authors intention and direction for this article.
Jame W. St g. Walkers argument that visible minorities were mistreated during World War 1 is quite logical when faced with the events and the supporting documents. In reviewing the chain of occurences this is easily the conclusion that can be deduced. First the governments absolute refusal to allow visible minorities into the war. This demonstarted how racist and unbending the Canadian Government truly was. Second came the change in policy to allow only certain visible minorities limited entrance once the recruitment rates began to drop. While the government claimed ignorance to the original race criteria they still did not allow the visible minorities the proper respect they were due. The final act of conscription when the Governement forced visible minorities into a war that would benefit only the white man was the last indicator to the true feelings of the Government. Based on all the above events and all the supporting documentation, James W. ST G. Walkers conclusion that World War 1 was a step backard for visible minorities is the only logical conclusion that an be drwan from this.
James W. St G. Walker offers his opinion that the visible minorities of Canada were used and abused by a Governent that was completely unconcerned with them. His statement that World War 1 was a white man’s war is proved through his strong arguments that are supported through his research. his article is more than convicing it is fact. Backed up with multiple governement document and memo’s that can only lend their support to Walker’s thesis.
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