Celebrating our Indigenous Veterans: Eagle Lake’s Sandy Wabange a skilled soldier

Year 1 No. 30 — Friday, November 4, 2017

Sandy Wabange was the son of Joseph and Nancy Wabange. Joseph was a veteran of the first World War. Sandy's family were devout Christians who followed the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Sandy Wabange enlisted with the South Saskatchewan Regiment during the Second World War. But Sandy did not serve as an ordinary infantryman. The skills that he possessed and his competency as a soldier enabled him to serve his unit in a way that only a few select soldiers could serve. Sandy Wabange was a sniper.

According to Leonard Gardner Sr., who remembers Sandy very well, Sandy served as a sniper behind enemy lines. Leonard remembers Sandy telling the story of how he was injured on the battlefield. Sandy was in a trench using a periscope type lens to look over the top of the trench and beyond. The enemy was nowhere to be seen. Sensing that it was safe to come out of hiding, Sandy stood up. Upon standing, he was struck in the chest by a bullet. The bullet did not kill him because it did not penetrate the Bible that he kept in his shirt pocket. A second shot hit Sandy in the arm and knocked him down into the trench where he was protected from further enemy fire. For many years after the war, Sandy kept the Bible that was marked with a bullet hole.

Bernadette, Sandy's daughter remembers her father as an unmatched hunter. As children, Bernadette and her sister Margaret would try to hide on their father. But after just a few attempts, and no matter how hard they tried, they learned that it was impossible to hide from him.

After the War, Sandy used his observational skills and knowledge of the bush to work as a guide for recreational hunters and fishermen who travelled to Northwestern Ontario. An astute guide notices cloud cover, winds, temperature, humidity and other innumerable factors before making a decision on the best place to pursue one's prey.

Sandy's date of enlistment with the Armed Forces, his medals, and the date of his honourable discharge are not known as the family was victim to a house fire that destroyed many family documents.

Finally, though Sandy Wabagne was a skilled soldier, he, like many young men who experienced war, suffered a deep emotional trauma which he never recovered from. What Sandy saw and experienced on the battlefield left him with an anguish that he carried for the rest of his life.