Our committee follows the criteria set by the Government of Canada for inclusion in the books of remembrance in the Peace Tower at Ottawa and on CVWM (Canadian Virtual War Memorial), the national war casualties website.
Generally, that means that anyone who died on active service during Canada’s wars or whose death was attributable to service, and who had a significant connection to Saskatchewan, is eligible for inclusion in SVWM.
Note that Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) has established two arbitrary cut-off dates: for WWI it is Oct 1921, for WWII it is mid-1947. Veterans who perished after those two dates are not considered war casualties even if their deaths were attributable to service.
There are grey areas of course, and you will find several casualties in SVWM who are not in CVWM. For example, I recall one lad whose mind was destroyed by shell-shock and was sent home for treatment and discharged as “unfit (insanity)”. He was committed to the Saskatchewan hospital at Battleford and perished in the flu pandemic at the end of WWI. VAC has ruled that he is not eligible for commemoration since he was discharged as insane and died from influenza. I disagree on the grounds that from the time he enlisted until his death he was under the care of the Department of Militia and Defence.
SVWM also includes several categories of casualties that do not appear in CVWM:
- casualties of the North West Rebellion in 1885,
- Boer War casualties,
- casualties from WWI, WWII and Korea who served in US and other Allied forces,
- certain casualties in WWII such as civilian aircrew who served in the RAF’s Ferry Command,
- the aircrew from the UK, Australia and New Zealand who perished during training in Saskatchewan during WWII and who are buried in Saskatchewan cemeteries.
Peacekeeping casualties are also very difficult. VAC has tied itself in knots trying to develop criteria. For example, they don’t list a member of the armed forces who was killed or died on active service in peacetime if no one claimed a pension as a result of their death!
I admit that our committee has a lot of work to do in this area and there are several dozen problematic names. “Significant connection to Saskatchewan” also poses problems. We have generally not included casualties whose only connection to Saskatchewan was to have enlisted here. Committee chair Lloyd Jones adheres to the view that anyone who had a Saskatchewan mailing address for even a few months is included. In general, I think it is fair to say that we err on the side of inclusion.