Metis Women Remembered
By Christa Nicholat
with permission from
Dorothy Askwith is a Metis veteran who contributed to Canada's war effort during World War II. Dorothy enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) at age 17. The Dirty Thirties were just ending and the times were tough. Dorothy had no job and had not completed her Grade 12. Dorothy states: "I always dreamt of getting away from home, somehow making a buck, so I was elated when I was offered $1.25 a day in the services. Prior to that I had been making 25 cents an hour as casual labour. And this was going to be steady income. The fringe benefits, too, were a great attraction; I'd have clothes, my medical would be paid for, and the travel was so exciting."
Dorothy was stationed in various locations across Canada, such as Portage la Prairie and Kimberline, Manitoba; Moncton, New Brunswick; St. Huber, Quebec; and Aylmer, Ontario.
When discussing discrimination in the military, Dorothy states that "Everybody was so involved in what was happening with the war that nobody was involved in such pettiness. I don't think you bothered to look at the colour of your buddy's skin, especially the guys who were involved in warfare....That's my feeling; everything was too serious to think petty like that." Dorothy does, however, remember "a couple of casual gestures of discrimination" from a senior officer. When Dorothy would salute him, instead of returning her salute he'd just raise his hand and say "HOW." She never did complain. After Dorothy's discharge in Calgary, she worked there for a few years. She then moved back to Saskatoon to be with her mother who was ill. It was there that she also met the man who would become her husband of more than 40 years.