National Indigenous History Month, Honours Lt. David Greyeyes-Steele 

Code Talker, Freedom Fighter, National War Hero

In September 1943, amidst the turmoil of World War II, Lieutenant David Greyeyes of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation made history. His contributions not only exemplify the bravery and skill of Indigenous soldiers but also underscore the pivotal role Indigenous communities have played in safeguarding the rights and freedoms of Canadians and their allies.

David Greyeyes was born in 1914 on the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. From a young age, he demonstrated remarkable leadership and athletic prowess, traits that would later define his military career. When World War II erupted, Greyeyes enlisted in the Canadian Army, becoming one of the many Indigenous soldiers who served with distinction.

By September 1943, Greyeyes had already proven his mettle in several key battles. As a lieutenant, he led his troops with unwavering courage and tactical acumen. His efforts during the Italian Campaign were particularly noteworthy, where his leadership in the difficult terrain and challenging combat conditions earned him widespread respect. Greyeyes’ service was recognized with numerous accolades, including the Greek Military Cross and the British Empire Medal.

The contributions of Indigenous soldiers like David Greyeyes were vital to the Allied war effort. Thousands of Indigenous men and women served in various capacities during World War II, bringing with them unique skills and perspectives. They excelled as scouts, snipers, and code talkers, using their linguistic and cultural knowledge to confound enemy forces and protect vital communications.

Indigenous soldiers often faced significant challenges, both during and after the war. Despite their invaluable service, they frequently encountered systemic racism and were denied the same benefits and recognition as their non-Indigenous counterparts. However, their resilience and dedication have left an indelible mark on Canadian military history.

Lieutenant David Greyeyes’ legacy extends beyond his wartime service. After the war, he continued to serve his community and country in various capacities, including as a farmer, a public servant, and a chief of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. His story is a testament to the enduring spirit and profound contributions of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

As we celebrate National Indigenous History Month, it is crucial to acknowledge and honor the sacrifices and achievements of Indigenous veterans like Lieutenant David Greyeyes. Their service has helped to protect the freedoms we cherish today and has paved the way for greater recognition and reconciliation.

Indigenous communities have played a vital role in shaping the fabric of Canadian society. Their contributions to military efforts, both historically and in contemporary times, are a testament to their unwavering commitment to the protection and betterment of Canada and its allies.

In remembering and honouring Lieutenant David Greyeyes, we not only celebrate a remarkable individual but also pay tribute to the countless Indigenous men and women whose courage and dedication have enriched our nation’s history. Their stories inspire us to strive for a future where the rights and contributions of Indigenous peoples are fully recognized and celebrated.