Henry Louis Norwest
The National Aboriginal Veterans Monument stands in our nation’s capital, Ottawa, as a reminder of all the brave Métis and First Nations members of the Canadian military that sacrificed their lives for our freedom. It has been estimated that more than 12,000 members of our Aboriginal community served during the First World War, Second World War, and the Korean War. To bring to light one of the many Aboriginal soldiers, we will dive into the experience of Private Henry Louis ‘Ducky’ Norwest.
Norwest, a Métis marksman and cowboy, had a rocky start to his military career: he was discharged for misbehaviour soon after joining. Not to be denied, Norwest would travel to Calgary 8 months later, change his name, and successfully re-enlist to become a member of the Alberta Regiment of the Canadian Infantry. During his time at Vimy Ridge, Pte Norwest was awarded the Military Medal for his participation in capturing “The Pimple.”
Pte Norwest had successfully taken part in many other engagements, including the Battle of the Somme. He consistently distinguished himself while in the field amassing 115 confirmed kills as a sniper. He was also awarded a bar to his Military Medal for another act of gallantry following Vimy. Norwest, loved by his comrades, would be killed in action just three months before the end of the war.
To learn more about the participation of Private Henry Louis Norwest and other brave Indigenous Canadians be sure to check out our First Nations page on the Road to Vimy site. You can also find a rifle that Norwest carried in World War One on display at the Military Museums in Calgary Alberta, Canada.
Main photo: Depicted above is Private Norwest’s original gravesite marker erected by the 50th battalion. (Credit: Sharpshooter: Henry Louis Norwest/ Veterans Affairs Canada)