A parade preceding a national apology to parents and descendants of members of 2nd Construction Battalion, at the Truro Amateur Athletic Club in Truro, Nova Scotia on Saturday.< /p>
Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau has issued a formal national apology to the descendants and loved ones of the first unit of the 2nd Construction Battalion, a unit made up of black soldiers during the First World War.
Minister of National Defense Anita Anand and several other dignitaries also took part in the ceremony on Saturday afternoon in Truro, Nova Scotia.
All spoke of the racism that these soldiers suffered during the war and the lack of recognition they suffered in the 104 years since the end of the conflict .
Members of the 2nd Construction Battalion in Truro, Nova Scotia, before their departure for England and France in 1917.< /p>
In his speech, Mr. Trudeau recalled that the black soldiers of this battalion crossed the ocean on a separate boat from those of the whites, that they were segregated without medical care or appropriate rations.
When they returned to Halifax after the war, they never received the heroic welcome they deserved, he added.
I am here today to offer the apologies of the Government of Canada for the horrific way these patriots were treated, said Justin Trudeau.
“We can't change the past, but we must all take the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. »
— Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
A parade preceding the national apology to the parents and descendants of members of No. 2 Construction Battalion, at the Truro Amateur Athletic Club, Saturday.
He added that too many members of the Canadian Armed Forces today still face systemic racism and discrimination, including racism against black communities.
He repeated that his government was committed to in-depth reform of the culture within the Canadian Forces.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the National Apology Ceremony to Parents and Descendants of Members of No. 2 Construction Battalion Saturday afternoon in Truro.
No. 2 Construction Battalion has was formed on July 5, 1916 in Pictou, Nova Scotia, then trained in Truro, where Saturday's ceremony was taking place.
The majority of battalion members were from Nova Scotia.
A group photo taken in the fall of 1916 of members of the 2nd Construction Battalion. One of the whites seated in the front is Commander Kenneth Allan Morrison.
They boarded the SS Southland bound for Liverpool, England on March 28, 1917, then were deployed in eastern France.
These men built roads, bridges and railways, in order to ensure the transport of the wood necessary for the combatants who were at the front.
Crowds gather ahead of the national apology on Saturday in Truro.
The Cultural Center Nova Scotia Black Cultural Center has been working with the Canadian government to prepare for Saturday's event.
Their efforts have resulted in the tracing of descendants of members of the battalion who served in the Great War.
The director of the center, Russell Grosse, said some of those present for the national apology in Truro came from as far away as Barbados and the West Indies.