Kenora Armoury renaming honours First World War Indigenous Private
By Officer Cadet Natasha Tersigni, 38 Canadian Brigade Group Public Affairs Officer
Just two days shy of the 100th anniversary of his actions that earned him the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), a public ceremony was held on September 29 to officially the rename the Kenora Armoury as the Private David Kejick, DCM, Armoury.
Members of Kenora’s 116 Independent Field Battery Royal Canadian Artillery along with Pte Kejick’s family and local Indigenous and municipal leaders gathered to honour Pte Kejick and unveil the armoury’s new name.
“The renaming of the armoury from a military’s perspective to honour a private is a bit unusual; the majority of the time military building or infrastructure will be named after a high ranking officer. Private David Kejick was a great young man who did a great act and was awarded the DCM. He was seen as a leader from the outset,” said Lieutenant Colonel Shawn Fortin, Commanding Officer of 38 Canadian Brigade Group Artillery Tactical Group.
Pte Kejick was from the Shoal Lake First Nations Community, just outside of Kenora, Ontario, and joined the military in 1916 when he was 20 years old. He was sent to Europe to serve during the First World War and fought in England, Belgium and France. On October 1, 1918, Pte Kejick and his battalion were overtaken by German forces near the village of Tilloy in France. Being pinned down by enemy fire, Pte Kejick on his own accord grabbed a machine gun and began returning fire in order to provide his allied soldiers with cover.
“He displayed marked courage and headwork during the attack on enemy positions at Tilloy on October 1, 1918. When his company was held up by heavy fire, he on his own initiative ran into the open, and, with his Lewis gun at the hip, fired four pans into the enemy machine guns,” read Pte Kejick’s DCM award citation.
“His fire was so effective that a party of the company on the right were able to advance and capture the four machine guns together with about seventy prisoners, amongst whom was an enemy officer. He did splendid work.”
Following the war, Pte Kejick returned to Canada and settled back in Shoal Lake with his wife where they raised five children. Kejick remained an active community leader, which included being Chief of Shoal Lake First Nation for three terms.
“Private David Kejick’s actions on October 1, 1918 are testaments to his bravery and dedication to his country, his battalion and to his fellow soldiers. His accomplishments continued after the war as he moved on to serve his community,” said Bob Nault who is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Kenora.
“Renaming the armoury is more than just a testament to Private Kejick’s bravery. It is an acknowledgement of the contributions and sacrifices made by Canadian’s Indigenous people who enlisted in the military. It is estimated over 4,000 Indigenous people served during the First World War.”
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