The Government of Canada announced its intention to apologize for the treatment of members of the No. 2 Construction Battalion before, during, and after their service to Canada during WWI in a virtual event today. The battalion’s members, their families, their descendants, and their community deserve to be recognized and thanked by a grateful nation for the sacrifices they made to serve Canada, sacrifices that were not all made on the battlefield.
Sean Fraser, Member of Parliament for Central Nova, hosted the event. The Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, addressed the need for a sincere and respectful apology for the racism and discrimination faced by members of Canada’s only Black military unit.
Because of their skin color, more than 600 members of the No. 2 Construction Battalion were turned away from the Canadian Expeditionary Force. More than 600 men enlisted in the segregated, non-combatant battalion, which was formed in 1916 and deployed overseas and to France. They assisted in the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, and railways to ensure that much-needed lumber could be transported to the Front.
Following meaningful consultation with community members and descendants, an apology and commemoration event is expected.