Poundmaker veteran included in Italian book on Second World War liberators
- Brendan Mayer | November 14, 2020
The late Henry Beaudry Sr. and other Indigenous veterans who helped liberate Italy during World War II have been featured in a book by a well-known Italian writer.
The book titled I pellerossa che liberarono l’Italia, by Matteo Incerti, includes information about Beaudry’s life and highlights his military service.
Henry Beaudry Jr. said his father would have been honoured to be included in the book.
Beaudry Sr. joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1941 and Beaudry Jr. said his father enlisted in Paynton, Saskatchewan to see the world, experience life and fight for his country. Beaudry Sr. lived on the Poundmaker Cree Nation, Mosquito First Nation and Sweetgrass First Nation and was the great-grandson of Chief Poundmaker.
The book was written in Italian and was released this past June. Incerti said he hopes an English edition will be finished by the end of 2021.
The book relates how Beaudry Sr. was captured by the Nazis in Ravenna, Italy.
“I would like to see the site where my father was captured,” Beaudry Jr. said. “They fought all night and they ran out of ammunition and they were rounded up and taken by German officers.”
Incerti and Beaudry Jr. said they enjoyed speaking with each other over Skype about Beaudry Sr.
“It was simply great,” Incerti said. “Now I have a Cree brother. I have a long trip to do in Canada.”
“It was an honour for Matteo to get ahold of me and for my father to get recognized,” Beaudry Jr. said. “He was very interested in my father’s story. One day our family would like to write our own book about my father.”
Incerti said Beaudry Sr. and the other Indigenous veterans mentioned in his book are true heroes.
“This book is not just about war and history,” Incerti said. “It’s about life and hope. It’s the story of hundreds of boys and men that volunteered for the freedom of a people. They were discriminated against in reserves and in the terrible residential schools and they could not vote, but they decided to come to fight and die for us.”
Beaudry Sr. attended the Indian Residential School in Delmas, Saskatchewan.
Beaudry Jr. almost joined the Canadian Armed Forces but his father told him not to enlist.
“My father didn’t want me to join the army,” Beaudry Jr. said. “My father always felt that the Canadian government never properly recognized Saskatchewan First Nations veterans when they came back to Canada. I wouldn’t want to see my grandkids join the army. The Saskatchewan Indian Veterans Association (now the Saskatchewan First Nations Veterans Association) isn’t receiving enough help from the government. It’s sad.”
Beaudry Jr. is a business development specialist for the his First Nation’s economic development arm and said he learned many lessons from his father.
“He showed me the work ethic that he had and the respect that he had for humanity,” Beaudry Jr. said. “My dad was a humble man. I never saw him angry. I attribute that to the horrors of war that he witnessed. My father provided for us with his hard work. He gave me affirmation that I was doing good.”
Beaudry Sr. became a celebrated artist after the war. He passed away in 2016.
“Even right before he died, my father suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder,” Beaudry Jr. said. “He would have nightmares of the war and be crying in his sleep. His art was a way to deal with his post-traumatic stress disorder. It was hard to let him go. He was ready. He never regretted anything.”