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John Shiwak (1889 – November 20, 1917) born Rigolet, Labrador, Canada and died at Masnieres, France, when a German shell exploded killing him and six of his fellow soldiers during the First World War. He was a member of the Newfoundland Regiment and noted as one the best snipers in the British forces during the war.

Shiwak, an Inuit, lived at Cul-de-Sac, a small community near Rigolet, at the entrance to Lake Melville. According to family lore, the family name was changed from Sikoak, an Inuit word meaning thin ice, by Dr. Harry Paddon of the Grenfell Mission to Shiwak. He was a hunter in the far interior of Labrador and also of the Labrador Sea near his hometown, where he learned to handle a rifle.

Shiwak had joined the Legion of Frontiersmen, a paramilitary organization that had been founded in Great Britain in 1905 and had set up operations in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1911. In 1915 Shiwak left Rigolet for St. John's and enlisted in the Newfoundland Regiment. During his time in the war his superiors recognised his abilities as a sharp shooter and he was promoted to Lance Corporal. As part of the mission to clear pockets of resistance near Cambrai, on November 20, 1917, the regiment was engaged in an assault on the French village of Masnieres when a German shell exploded killing seven, including Shiwak.

External links[edit | edit source]

"John Shiwak". Dictionary of Canadian Biography (online ed.). University of Toronto Press. 1979–2005. 

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