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 Ottawa commits to honoring first all-Black battalion

Black Cultural Center for Nova Scotia Members of the 2nd Construction Battalion, which served in the First World War, were victims of racism. Created on July 5, 1916 in Pictou, Nova Scotia, the battalion was the last separate unit in the Canadian army.

The federal government announced $2.25 million in funding Friday to honor the legacy of the 2nd Construction Battalion, the only all-Black unit in Canada to serve in the First World War.

Defense Minister Bill Blair released a statement saying the money would be spent over five years on commemorative activities, educational materials and war memorials.

Mr.'s announcement . Blair follows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's official apology to the descendants of the battalion members in July 2022.

Mr. Trudeau said the battalion's 600 members faced systemic racism before, during and long after the war.

Friday's announcement took place at the Black Cultural Center for Nova Scotia in Cherry Brook, Nova Scotia.

The Department of National Defense says it is taking steps to change the culture military, including eradicating systemic racism and discrimination.

“The contributions of the members of the 2nd Construction Battalion to the war efforts during World War I were invaluable, and yet they were victims of anti-black racism during and after the war,” Minister Blair said in a statement.

“Recognizing the experiences of these courageous men and promoting their legacy is an important step in the process of righting the wrongs of the past and promoting diversity and inclusion within Canada’s armed forces. »

When World War I broke out in 1914, hundreds of black men in Canada were turned away when they volunteered to fight overseas.

After two years of protests, the Canadian Army gained authorization in 1916 to create a separate, non-combatant battalion that would be responsible for building roads and railways and conducting logging operations as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Created on July 5, 1916 in Pictou, Nova Scotia, the battalion was the last separate unit in the Canadian Army.

Recruitment took place across the country . More than 300 of those who enlisted came from Nova Scotia. Others had joined from New Brunswick, Ontario, Western Canada and the United States.

The unit was disbanded on September 15, 1920 without ceremony or recognition for the service of its members.

“This funding is a concrete example of the Government of Canada's commitment to taking serious measures to encourage diversity and inclusion and fight racism in our workplaces. work and in society”, indicates the ministry in its press release.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116