- Paul Chartrand | November 26, 2014
Heroes on the Sports Field
Don Marks is a Winnipeg writer with a keen interest in the accomplishments of Aboriginal sports performers. He wrote They Call Me Chief: Warriors on Ice. Well Don has done it again. On 28 October his new book Playing the White Man’s Game (J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing) was launched in Winnipeg. According to the publicity on the event the book is about Native American athletes who overcame tremendous obstacles to dominate in the NFL, CFL, PGA, Olympic Games, NHL and professional wrestling. I bet Billy Two Rivers is in there.
I have been able to experience the keen interest of Indigenous people in sports competition, not only in Canada but also in Australia. Bob Morgan, a Murri Elder and professor of education from New South Wales, is known to many Saskatchewan folks. Bob, who excelled in the game of ‘rugby league’ (not to be confused with ‘rugby union’) teamed up with another Aboriginal hero, Syd Jackson the Australian Rules (another ‘footie’ code) legend over thirty years ago to found the Aboriginal Golf Foundation which hosts a National Aboriginal Golf Championship every year in Australia.
You may have inferred from the above that I was not able to attend Don’s book launch. I am nevertheless very keen to read his new book. I shall make sure to send Don a copy of this commentary in the hope he sees fit to give me an autographed copy… heh heh.
Heroes on the Battlefield
November reminds us of the heroes who served and died on the battlefield for their country. As a young boy growing up in St Laurent Manitoba along Lake Manitoba, I was familiar with the presence in the community of war veterans who had returned from World War II and from the Korean War. Some of them bore the physical reminders of their heroic exploits. I remember too the stories about the battlefield heroes and prisoners of war who did not return home. For that reason I was a keen reader of Nathan Greenfield’s The Damned: The Canadians at the Battle of Hong Kong and the POW Experience, 1941-4 published by HarperCollins Publishers in 2011. I devoured the book, searching for some corroboration of the stories I had heard about our local heroes. Sure enough, there it was: the reference to the three Chaboyer brothers from St Laurent. I knew the brother who had returned home: he was a keen fan of our local baseball team in the 60s. The book deals at some length with the story of Marcel Chaboyer who was dragged away in a POW camp and “his fellow Canadians never saw him again”. One version of the event is that he punched a guard who was beating him. He was sentenced to two years’ hard labour but served longer than that. In a footnote it is mentioned that Marcel died a month before the war ended. His ashes were sent to his widow and in 1973 the Manitoba government named lake 63K/16 as Chaboyer Lake. The descriptions of the sadistic tortures the prisoners of war were made to endure does not make pleasant reading. It is nevertheless right to learn about the heroic lives of those whose sacrifices are part of our heritage. This book adds to the many stories I have heard about the many veterans and those who died heroes on the battlefields in faraway countries.
The Damned records the names of all those who died in the Battle of Hong Kong and in the POW camps. From my home Metis community are listed Marcel Chaboyer, David J. Chaboyer, Ernest Lavallee and Anthony J. Sioux. The latter and Marcel are buried in Sai Wan Cemetery in Hong Kong and David and Ernest Lavallee are listed as buried in Yokohama War Cemetery.
Men who fought, were tortured and died for Canada must never be forgotten. To remember them we can do no better than repeat the poetic words we hear at November 11th ceremonies:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.