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Ottawa to apologize to Canada's first Black battalion on Saturday

During World War I, hundreds of Black men in Canada were rejected when they offered to fight overseas in 1914 as they were told they weren't wanted in what was considered a white man's war
070722 - no 2 construction battalion
No. 2 Construction Battalion

The federal government is set to deliver a formal apology in Truro on Saturday to descendants of Canada's only all-Black unit to serve in the First World War.

Defence Minister Anita Anand announced in March it would be formally apologizing to descendants of the 600 members of the battalion for racial discrimination their relatives endured.

Plans for the apology were in the works when Anand's predecessor, former defence minister Harjit Sajjan, held that post.

During World War I, hundreds of Black men in Canada were rejected when they offered to fight overseas in 191. They were told they weren't wanted in what was considered a white man's war. 

But after two years of protests, the Canadian military was granted approval in 1916 to establish the No. 2 Construction Battalion.

More than 300 of those who enlisted were from Nova Scotia, while others joined from New Brunswick, Western Canada, Ontario and the United States.

Few members of the battalion saw combat action as they were told its help was not wanted on the front lines. The unit mainly supported major forestry operations in conjunction with the Canadian Forestry Corps.

The event is set to take place noon at the Truro Amateur Athletics Club Grounds.

With files from The Canadian Press




Chris Halef

About the Author: Chris Halef

Chris is a reporter for HalifaxToday.ca and NEWS 95.7. In 2018, he won the RTDNA Dave Rogers Award for best short feature.
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