Pjila'si (welcome). Kulaman Ma' Wan' Ta' Siwkw - Lest We Forget (in Mikmaw). This November 11 as we remember all our war veterans we must not forget the contributions of the aboriginal people of this province to the security of this nation by participating in our wars. Many have paid the ultimate price by giving their lives for their country. In our case, our country was Newfoundland. In this article I highlight one particular incident. In October 12, 1915 five members of the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve were lost when the ship; the armed drifter Frons Olivar, whose crew they formed part of, struck a mine and was blown up in the North Sea. The disaster was relayed to Commander McDermott of the H.M.S. Calypso who received the message Wednesday morning, October 20, 1915, from the Admiralty. The men lost were:
There are many stories that need to be told. One such story is the story of Victor Joseph Benoit. His name has not been publicly mentioned since 1915 but today I salute him for his bravery. Victor Benoit was born March 15, 1896 in De Grau, NL. and was baptized in Stephenville, NL. He had ten siblings including Joseph H. Benoit, who was adopted. He was a young, eager Mi’kmaq man, who left his home along with his brother Johnny-Joe and Joseph H. Benoit (whom he called his cousin Joe), along with others in his community attracted by the excitement of travel and living an exciting life.
He was the son of Joseph Benoit and Ellen Damois of De Grau, Newfoundland. His father was known to all as Joe-Mic Benoit and to his descendants as Gopy-Joe. The family lived of the land fishing, hunting, trapping and gathering food for the long and harsh winters the Port au Port Peninsula was known for. They also had a saw mill, a skill passed down from his father Michel “Mic” Benoit who operated a saw mill powered by a water wheel in Red Brook.
Victor Benoit tragedy lost his life at the very young age of just nineteen. St. Benedict’s Parish (now called Our Lady of the Cape) registry in De Grau records that he died October 12, 1915 in WWW1 and is buried in Cape St. George, NL. His sister Victoria, only surviving sibling, remembers him well. He is my Great Uncle and he leaves no descendants but he will never be forgotten. Welálin (thank you).
Some other Mi'kmaq war veterans from Newfoundland include:
Compiled and published on the internet on November 9, 2005 by Jasen Sylvester Benwah
Cape St. George, NL.
Photo of Victor Benoit courtesy of Edna May Benoit
Appeared in the November 11, 2005 issue of the Western Star.
Website Copyright © 2005 Jasen Sylvester Benwah