Isaacs, Ike

Welby “Ike” Isaacs was born January 20, 1939; he grew up on the Six Nations reserve in southwestern Ontario, where he was raised by his grandmother.  She died when Ike was 16, and neighbours took him in, allowing Ike to avoid the fate that would have awaited him otherwise – a residential school.  Ike didn’t see too much opportunity in Six Nations, so at 17 he decided to enlist in the Canadian Forces, choosing the armoured corps.  Training at Borden and Petawawa ensued, and not long after that Ike found himself deployed to West Germany, where he joined NATO forces training for a potential ground war with the USSR.  Ike was deployed in British Centurion tanks, and they did maneuvers largely in the British zone of occupation, working alongside soldiers from the other NATO countries.  They were there at the same time as Elvis Presley, though Ike did not have the chance to meet him.  After his time in West Germany, Ike returned to Canada, and he was based in Gagetown, New Brunswick for a time, before being selected to participate in a mission to Egypt.  The Dragoons were selected for that because of their specialized training as a reconnaissance unit.  During that time Ike was stationed near Rafah, on the Egypt-Israel border, where he did his part to help maintain the fragile peace in that region.  Ike finished out his career in the military as a PT officer, and by 1963 he was ready for other opportunities, returning to Six Nations and then Brantford, where he raised a family and began a new career as an ironworker.  Ike later came to the attention of the USS Arizona Memorial Foundation, an organization dedicated to keeping the memory of December 7, 1941 intact – and to honour the veterans from that time, especially those of indigenous background. A special ceremony was held where Ike was presented with one of their medals, cast from the superstructure of the USS Arizona.  Ike Isaacs was interviewed by Scott Masters at his home in Brantford, Ontario in January 2024.