The Courier

The camp of No. 2 Construction Company near Lajoux, France in 1917 – Photo from the Department of National Defence 

Canada’s Minister of National Defence says the Canadian government intends to apologize and honour the No.2 Construction Battalion.

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser and Douglas Ruck, Co-Chair of Black Battalion Historical Marker Society, joined Anita Anand at a virtual event on Monday where she announced the event will take place on July 9th in Truro, Nova Scotia.

“The ongoing and tireless work of those involved in this initiative will ensure that the descendants and loved ones of the brave men who served in the No. 2 Construction Battalion are acknowledged and honoured as they assume their rightful place in Canada’s celebrated military history,” said Anand.  “As the Minister of National Defence, I remain wholly and personally committed to delivering a meaningful apology this summer to members who suffered discrimination and whose service and sacrifice were therefore diminished unjustifiably. But that apology is not the end. It will signal a new beginning: a solemn promise of progress as a way to honour and preserve the legacy of these brave men.”

The No.2 Construction Battalion was Canada’s first made up of predominantly Black personnel. Members of the unit served in the First World War.

“While members of the No. 2 Battalion were simply not allowed to enlist because they were Black, they refused to sit by and watch the war unfold. They fought for their right to contribute in the face of adversity, and we are forever indebted to them for their courage and their bravery. This historic Battalion fought not only for their country but also for their right to do so,” added Fraser.

The Canadian government says consultations with the National Apology Advisory Committee along with the Black Cultural Center for Nova Scotia and the Canadian Armed Forces saw 390 descendants of No. 2 Construction members participate.

“What my father termed ‘Canada’s best kept military secret’ was a shameful part of this country’s history that had effectively been expunged from the nation’s collective memory,” said Ruck. “The apology is part of this county’s reckoning on racism and an acceptance of the responsibility for the actions and inactions of the past. However, to ensure that the legacy of the Battalion is appropriately honoured and not forgotten, the apology must be accompanied by actions, and I’m pleased that the Minister has made that commitment.”

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