“Q’sapi is a phrase in the Okanagan language that means ‘long time ago.’ It is an expression often heard among the Okanagan people to introduce a story.”1

So begins the Introduction to the book Q’sapi. A History of Okanagan People as Told by Okanagan Families, written, edited and transcribed by Shirley Louis.

Louis relates the history of the Okanagan First Nation people’s contribution during the two world wars which is of particular interest as we approach the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the first World War. She writes:

“As World War I approached, the Okanagan people were undergoing many changes. It was the era when Chief Baptiste Logan was replaced by Chief Pierre Michel…. [W]hether it was from the Armed Forces ads, or the anticipation of journeying abroad, the Okanagan of the valley and the neighbouring Shuswap enlisted for active duty.

WW I recruitment poster

WW I recruitment poster 2

Two local men did not return from WW I. Johnny Harris, a family man, and husband to Harriet Maloney, joined the Infantry at Ewing’s Landing and died from head wounds while in combat, August 15, 1918. Billy Brewer, also a family man and the husband of Amelia Duteau, was also killed in France in 1918. He left three children.

Others known to have joined in the war effort were Charlie Parker, Harry Parker, Manuel Bercie from Enderby, Harry Tronson, William Lawrence, Charlie Edwards, George McLean, Charlie Simpson, Tommy Armstrong and five Tronson boys.”3

Charlie Simpson

Charlie Simpson of the Duck Lake Reserve

Eighteen men from the Okanagan First Nation enlisted in World War II, including five Simpson men — Ernest, Harvey, Bert, Clarence and Tom Simpson. The people of the Okanagan were well represented.

1 Louis, Shirley. Q’sapi. A History of Okanagan People as Told by Okanagan Families. Penticton, BC: Theytus Books, 2002. p. 7.

2 Canadian War Poster Collection. http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/warposters/english/index.htm

3 Louis, Shirley. Q’sapi, pp. 41 and 46.