Chief Charles Labrador
1932 - 2002
Photo 1998

Charlie, a devoted husband, father, grandfather and friend, was, among many other things, an Elder who taught the traditional way, and the father of the Acadia Band of Mi'kmaq. This designation came about because he, in the early 1960s, had grown tired of the fact that his band, whose members had been left on a general list after Nova Scotia's other Mi'kmaq bands were recognized under the Indian Act in 1958, had no representation.

The task Charlie undertook to achieve Indian Act recognition for his band, especially the lobbying of Indian Affairs, was not easy because it required him to do things not in keeping with his nature. Being an unassuming man, he didn't relish being assertive, in the limelight, or the intrigues of politics.

Charlie’s efforts also created financial hardship for his family. Besides the time he had to take away from the forest work he loved, and resultant loss of income, all travel expenses connected with realizing recognition had to come out of his already strained income. However, he and his wife and three children bore the burden without complaint. This may come as a surprise to many Acadia Band members, especially the younger generations, but much of what they have today is the result of the early sacrifices of Charlie and family.

The Acadia Band, Charlie it’s first Chief, comprising Gold River, Wildcat, Medway, Ponhook Lake and Yarmouth reserves, was accorded recognition in 1967.

Halifax Herald columns I wrote honouring Charlie:

April 17, 1998: http://www.danielnpaul.com/Col/1998/ChiefCharlesLabrador-RespectedElder.html

August 8, 2002: http://www.danielnpaul.com/Col/2002/ChiefCharlesLabrador-GreatRoleModel.html


My Grandfather Louis Labrador - Veteran WWI

Canada Rewarded his Bravery with Discrimination

By Todd Labrador - November 5, 2011

Chief Charlie Labrador, my father, who died in 2002 at the age of 70, was raised mostly by my great-grandfather Joe Jermey on the Wildcat Indian Reserve, Queen’s Co. He wouldn’t talk much about his father, he would just tell us that his father died of mental wounds.

Those who knew my father knew him as honourable man, he was the first Chief of the Acadia First Nation. When the Acadia First Nation was first formed there was very little money available. My father would travel to the many Chiefs meetings and had to work in the woods cutting logs in order to get enough money to attend the Chiefs meetings, he could not afford a hotel room so he would have to sleep in his car, he did this many times.

After he died I did some research to find out more about his father, my grandfather. His name was Louis, I found out that he and his 2 brothers fought in WW1, I never knew their names, because dad wouldn’t talk much about it. I heard that they a fought at Vimy Ridge, and one of the brothers died over there.

Being Mi’kmaq, they did not have to go to war, because Conscription did not apply to them, but they wanted to fight for Canada, so they signed up. My grandfather was under age so they had to lie about his age so he could go with his brothers. I also heard that they were told that if they go to War for Canada, things would be good when they came home.

In 2005 I went to France to build a birch bark canoe, I told them the story of my grandfather, and his two brothers and that one brother was killed around Vimy Ridge.

My friend good friend Michel Roux took me to Vimy Ridge to look for the grave of my grandfather’s brothers, but we did not have much info to go on, only the last name Labrador. Eventually we found his grave just over the border in Belgium. It read Private C. Labrador 25 Bn Canadian Inf, died July 27 1916 at the age of 20. I since found out that his name was Charlie, perhaps my father was named after him.

I heard that my Grandfather was Buried in the Catholic Cemetery just up St Phillips Street in Bridgewater, but we could never find his grave, we heard that when he was buried, because he had a wooden leg, they (and I’m not sure who) tried to take off his wooden leg, but my grandmother (Beatrice) fought with them so they would leave it on him, guess they wanted to give it to someone else.

I later found out that because he was a Mi’kmaq they would not allow him to be buried inside the Catholic cemetery fence, so not long ago we found that he was buried outside the cemetery fence and down over the bank in the woods, we do not know which unmarked grave is his, there is just a sunken hole in the ground, no marker, but there are several maybe 20-30 sunken unmarked graves there, he was not the only Mi’kmaq buried outside the Catholic cemetery fence.

I also found out that when my grandfather came back from the war, he had one half of one leg missing and could not work, and because he was an Indian was not welcomed into town. Eventually he began to drink a lot, I suspect, to cover his pain. He eventually became an Alcoholic, later shot himself, I guess that’s why my dad told me that his father died of "mental wound."