Apology to Canada’s first Black battalion to come this summer: minister


The federal government says it will issue a formal apology this summer for the discrimination suffered by members of Canada’s only all-Black unit to serve in the First World War.

Defence Minister Anita Anand told a news conference Monday the government has been in consultation with descendants of the 600 members of the No. 2 Construction Battalion over the last year.

Anand’s predecessor, former defence minister Harjit Sajjan, first announced a year ago that plans were in the works for a formal apology that would highlight the fact that hundreds of Black men in Canada were turned away when they volunteered to fight overseas in 1914.

Following two years of protests, the Canadian military was granted approval in 1916 to establish a segregated, non-combat battalion.

Quebec Liberal MP Greg Fergus says the apology is long overdue and represents a step toward celebrating the contribution of the battalion in Canadian history.

Anand says the official apology will take place on July 9 in Truro, N.S.

More than 300 of the battalion members who enlisted were from Nova Scotia, while others joined from New Brunswick, Ontario, the West and the United States.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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