Aboriginal contribution in War of 1812 recognized at Toronto ceremony
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By: Will Campbell, The Canadian Press
TORONTO - First Nations leaders and supporters stood steps from where their ancestors fought bloody battles against American invaders during the War of 1812 as they called Monday for greater recognition of aboriginals as Canadians pause to remember the conflict's bicentennial.
"It was in that first year of the war that the native warriors saved Canada. Without their participation we would be just part of the United States," former Ontario lieutenant-governor James Bartleman, who is Ojibwa, told the crowd at Toronto's historic Fort York.
He pointed to the role Ojibwa sharpshooters played in the April 1813 Battle of York, where 12 U.S. ships pulled up to the shore of Lake Ontario and disgorged waves of invaders to take Fort York, which was jointly defended by the British with the Ojibwa.
"They held off the first wave of Americans until they were overwhelmed, and the British managed to escape to fight another day," said Bartleman.
He said such examples of aboriginals' contributions to the war have often been left to sit in the margins of the country's history books.
"It is alluded to but it is never emphasized... The fact that if it hadn't been for the native warriors, Canada would have been lost."
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