Much has been said about the new longest confirmed kill set by a Canadian soldier in the early part of the summer 2017. However, having highly touted snipers is not new to the Canadian military. During the First World War, Canadian Snipers often stood out as being in a class of their own. In fact, Canada had at least six of the top dozen snipers from either side of the War. This list includes Lance Corporal Francis Pegahmagabow, who is credited with 378 confirmed kills, making him the most effective sniper in the First World War.
Many other Aboriginals are on that list, including Henry Norwest, John Shiwak, Johnson Paudash, Philip McDonald, and Patrick Reil. It has been argued by historians, the dominance by First Nations peoples in this area is no coincidence. By utilizing past experiences from their indigenous upbringing, these men were able to master the elements of patience, camouflage, and tracking, all of which are crucial for both hunting and performing as a sniper.
During the war, the abilities of each of these men had raised them to equality with their brothers in arms. Unfortunately, the new-found respect would not last for those able to return from the war. However, what did survive was the attention given to training new snipers within the Canadian military. As is evident through time, Canada has continually built upon the natural abilities of its people and in this case, it has again created highly skilled snipers capable of accomplishing the improbable.
To learn more about the recent record, visit: Canadian Elite Special Forces Sniper Sets Record (Globe and Mail) OR Canadian Sniper Sets Two Mile Record (Vox)
To watch a video about WWI sniper John Shiwak, visit Valour Canada's Forgotten Fallen Documentary: John Shiwak
To learn more about Canada’s WWI aboriginal snipers, see Valour Canada's First Nations page on the Road to Vimy Ridge website and Aboriginal Soldiers Among Canada's Top Snipers during the FWW (Globe and Mail)
Photo: Michel Ackabee, an Aboriginal sniper from the First World War. (Credit: War 1914 - 1918 – Enlistments and War Activities of Indians/ Canadian Library and Archives/ no. 2095973)