Medals that had belonged to aboriginal war hero Tommy Prince were to be returned home to Winnipeg after family members made the highest bid at an auction held in London, Ontario on August 9. Cheers filled the room when the 10 medals were bought by Prince’s family for the sum of $75,000.
Prince, who served in World War II and the Korean War, was a member of the renowned Devil’s Brigade and is considered Canada’s most decorated Aboriginal war veteran. Among his medals were the U.S. Silver Star and the King George Military Medal, which he received at Buckingham Palace from King George VI. He had also been recommended for the French Croix de Guerre but, ironically, the courier bearing the dispatch had been killed. The medals were first auctioned off in 1997 by a Winnipeg coin-dealer after they had turned up some 20 years after Prince had passed away. Money and pledges came in from across the country to help Prince’s family reclaim the medals. The opening bid of $72,000 came as a bit of a shocker when announced by auctioneer George Papaspyrou, as many felt the bidding would have started closer to the reserve bid of $20,000. “We’re bringing them home,” said Jim Bear, Prince’s nephew and a respected member of Winnipeg’s Native community.