Kenora Armoury renaming honours Indigenous First World War private

Article / October 24, 2018 / Project number: 18-0395

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By Officer Cadet Natasha Tersigni, 38 Canadian Brigade Group Public Affairs

Kenora, Ontario — Just two days shy of the 100th anniversary of the day he earned a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), a public ceremony was held to officially the rename the Kenora Armoury in honour of Private David Kejick.

Members of Kenora’s 116 Independent Field Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery along with Pte Kejick’s family and local Indigenous and municipal leaders, gathered on September 29 to honour Pte Kejick and unveil the armoury’s new name: Private David Kejick, DCM, Armoury.

“The renaming of the armoury from a military perspective to honour a private is a bit unusual,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Shawn Fortin, Commanding Officer of 38 Canadian Brigade Group Artillery Tactical Group. “The majority of the time, military infrastructure is named after higher-ranking officers. 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.”

“I think the fact that he was a private makes it that much more special, and is an inspiration to the junior members that come through here,” he added.

Pte Kejick was a member of the Shoal Lake First Nation Community, just outside of Kenora, and joined the military in 1916 at age 20. During the First World War, he fought in England, Belgium and France.

On October 1, 1918, Pte Kejick and his battalion were overtaken by German forces near the French village of Tilloy. Pinned down by enemy fire, Pte Kejick grabbed a machine gun and began returning fire in order to provide his comrades with cover.

“He displayed marked courage and headwork during the attack on enemy positions at Tilloy on 1st Oct. 1918,” reads Pte Kejick’s DCM citation. “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.”

“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,” the citation continued.

Following the war, Pte Kejick returned to Canada and settled back with his wife in Shoal Lake, where they raised five children. Pte Kejick remained an active community leader, which included serving three terms as Chief of Shoal Lake First Nation. He died in March of 1969.

“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,” said Bob Nault, Member of Parliament for the riding of Kenora during the renaming ceremony. “His accomplishments continued after the war as he moved on to serve his community.”

“Renaming the armoury is more than just a testament to Private Kejick’s bravery,” he added. “It is an acknowledgement of the contributions and sacrifices made by Canada’s Indigenous people who enlisted in the military.”

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