Mary Greyeyes-Reid (1920 – 2011)

Mary Greyeyes-Reid
© Melanie Reid

Mary Greyeyes-Reid was the first Indigenous woman to join the Canadian Army. Born on the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, she entered the residential school system at age five. When her formal education stopped after grade eight, a nun continued to tutor Greyeyes-Reid, who was now working at the school. In 1942, she joined the army and was stationed in Aldershot, England, where her opportunities were limited to working as a cook and laundress. She faced regular discrimination but was nonetheless called upon to appear in photographs encouraging Indigenous people to enlist. Greyeyes-Reid served until 1946 and eventually settled in Victoria. Despite financial hardship, she devoted herself to her family, working as a cook at a local restaurant and later as an industrial seamstress in Vancouver.

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