Canadiana launches online database of Aboriginal soldiers

April has been a good month for genealogists researching their Canadian ancestors with several new or expanded online databases, and here is another one.

The following is the release issued yesterday.

OTTAWA, ON, April 26, 2016 — The World Wars Aboriginal Veterans Portal (WWAVP), the largest and most comprehensive source of data about aboriginal soldiers of the First and Second World Wars, launches today at

World Wars Aboriginal Veterans Portal

World Wars Aboriginal Veterans Portal

The WWAVP documents the lives of 8,300 individuals through images, biographies, and transcriptions of all known or accessible biographical details about the soldiers. New records, features and descriptive information will continue to appear through to spring of 2017. Users can query the database using a variety of fields, including name, geographical locations, nation or band, and military units.

This free and publicly accessible database is a project of, a non-profit digital archive, and was awarded a generous grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage through the World War Commemorations Community Fund. To help shape and deliver the project and to coordinate the participation of aboriginal communities, partnered with Wampum Records, a leading aboriginal issues research organization.

In the first phase, meticulously collected and transcribed thousands of pieces of data about Canada’s aboriginal or indigenous World Wars veterans. All data is drawn from verified primary sources, including Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) service files and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

In the second phase, the portal will collect and add digitized diaries, photographs, and surviving documentary records held by soldiers or their families, creating an extensive online archive that will enrich the study and living memory of Canada’s aboriginal soldiers.

As large amounts of data filters into the database, it is already becoming possible to sketch a sociological portrait of aboriginal soldiers in history. Of a sample of 2,350 CEF individuals with known occupations, about 20% were labourers, 36% farmers or farmhands, 3.7% fishermen, 3% hunters, and 4.3% trappers. Some 15 clerks, 38 carpenters, 14 axemen, and 10 cowboys stood out among the CEF’s aboriginal contingent. These individuals ranged in age from 15 to 49.

To learn more, or to volunteer a digital image from the life of an aboriginal soldier, please visit the WWAVP website.

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About 12,000 aboriginal (Inuit, Metis, and First Nations) people served in Canada’s armed forces during the First and Second World Wars.

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