as told by Fred Poorman
Michael LaPlante (front), WWII Veteran from Kawacatoose First Nation
Standing L-R: Chief Dennis Dustyhorn, Kawacatoose First Nation,
Councillor Fred Poorman, Kawacatoose First Nation, FSIN Vice Chief Dutch E. Lerat
KAWACATOOSE FIRST NATION — Michael LaPlante was born on June 7, 1924 on the Kawacatoose (Poorman) First Nation. His Indian name is “Wandering Bear”. Before leaving for overseas, in accordance with his culture, there was a ceremony held in Day Star First Nation, where an elder prayed for his safe journey and return.
Mike worked in Alberta for a few years before enlisting for military life in Quinton, SK. He was with the Regina Rifles Regiment. His regiment number is L107762.
Mike took training in Canadian Forces Base Shilo, Manitoba, before being sent overseas. Once overseas he was immediately deployed to the front lines. When he left to Shilo his rank was Sergeant. When he was sent to the front lines he was a Corporal. Although hesitant to speak in-depth on the devastation he witnessed, Mike recalls being involved in some very heavy fighting and was right in the thick of the heaviest conflicts. Mike recalls one story where there was some very heavy shelling and his regiment took refuge in an old building where there were some nuns; the Red Cross came for the nuns and the building was burned down.
Mike served in England, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. When the war was over he extended his stay for another year to serve in the occupation in Germany. Mike also has two siblings that bravely served in the military: brother Raymond LaPlante and sister Evelyn Boyd (Buffalo-Robe). The late Evelyn served in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) earning her wings and pilot’s license while in the RCAF. Evelyn was the first First Nations woman to achieve this prestigious level, her license was still valid close to her passing—a remarkable achievement for a woman of her era.
Mike also had a brother who proudly served the military: Raymond LaPlante was also deployed to the front lines of WWII. Raymond was overseas before Mike and he stayed longer as well. Raymond was another immensely brave First Nation warrior.
Mike recalls while in Belgium he hitchhiked to Holland to visit his brother Raymond. Although Raymond walked, he owned a German motorcycle. Mike had three uncles who selflessly served our country: Alec, John, and Tony. Alec and John both served in the first and second world war, and Tony served in the first world war.
Mike was recently recognized and honored by the country of France; he was made a Knight of that country and presented with a plaque. It is believed he was the only First Nation service man to have been recognized with the highest award of France. All First Nations across the country and indeed all of Canada should be proud of this amazing recognition. Although he is 92 years old Mike’s mind is still sharp and he is an interesting individual to listen to. •