Image of the Month: Canadian Women’s Army Corps posed photo of Mary Greyeyes and Harry Ball, 1942.

18-05-31 BLOG 1 Mary GreyeyesThis pho­to­graph hung for decades in the National War Museum in Ottawa with its sub­jects labeled “uniden­ti­fied”, until Mary’s daughter-in-law learned of its exis­tence in 1995. The photo was taken to encour­age more women to join the army, and its staged “Indian bless­ing” prov­ing pop­u­lar, it was widely reprinted dur­ing the war, then forgotten.

Mary Greyeyes was from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. This tiny com­mu­nity (only 367 peo­ple live on the reserve) has a remark­able mil­i­tary his­tory. 56 of its youth served in the armed forces, includ­ing seven women, most of them named Greyeyes, Arcand or Lafond. Mary Greyeyes joined about the same time that my mother joined the Air Force. Muskeg Lake Cree have fought in Europe, Korea, and Afghanistan. Muskeg Lake is also the birth­place of the bal­let dancer, chore­o­g­ra­pher and film actor Michael Greyeyes.

Mary returned to Canada after fin­ish­ing her ser­vice in 1946, mar­ried, and made a career as an indus­trial seam­stress in Van­cou­ver. She died in 2011. The other par­tic­i­pant in the staged photo was Harry Ball, a Cree from Piapot First Nation, who was a World War I vet­eran. His Plains Chief regalia was scrounged up on that reserve, where the photo was taken.

Pho­tos of CWACS in action. Many were involved in dan­ger­ous work. They were not just clerk-typists and tea-brewers:

18-05-31 BLOG 2 CWACs18-05-31 BLOG 4 CWACS

18-05-31 BLOG 5 CWACSe3b2dff99d6d933a4e4a9ac9bfeb1fd4

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