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The Canadian government is preparing to apologize for the treatment endured by the first black-only battalion: Sunday, March 28th will be a hypothetical event announcing the government’s intention to apologize for the treatment suffered by members of the Second Building Battalion.
The 1st Battalion made entirely of blacks, the 2nd Construction Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), also known as the Black Battalion, was a separate non-combat work unit formed during World War I.
In 1916, thousands of Canadians were killed in Europe during the Great War. In Canada, thousands of others volunteer to help their brothers and sisters in the conflict. But a group of men are almost systematically rejected. Although they were combat capable, the Canadian Army turned them down, he explains The Canadian Encyclopedia :
The reason, their skin color.
Despite their willingness and eagerness to serve, they are fundamentally determined to understand that they are not good enough to fight alongside white soldiers.
The solution: form a battalion made entirely of blacks. On May 11, 1916, the British War Office in London announced that it was ready to accept separate units. Less than two months later, on July 5, 1916, the formation of the 2nd Building Battalion was formally authorized.
Members of the battalion dig trenches and build roads and railways so troops could advance. They also bring back the dead and wounded from the battlefield. Despite the fact that they are not fighting in the strict sense, they take risks every day.
But despite their bravery, they face discrimination. To give an idea of the discomfort experienced by members of this battalion, the Canadian Encyclopedia stated that when some men go to the cinema to entertain, they are informed that they can only sit on the balcony reserved for people of color.
Federal parliamentarians and conservatives as well as members of the black community in the Halifax area will participate in the March 28 event, which will begin broadcasting live. Facebook page of the Ministry of National Defense It will start at 1:00 PM ET. The opening address will take place at 1:00 PM (Eastern Time) or 2:00 PM (Atlantic Time).
Central Nova MP Sean Fraser will preside over the virtual ceremony in which Minister of National Defense Harjit Sagan will participate in a virtual way.
Other speakers include Anita Vanderbild, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defense, Daryl Sampson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, and Greg Fergus, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. Board of Treasury and Parliamentary Secretary of the Minister of Digital Government.
Guests will include members of the Black Battallion Historical Marker Society and members of the Black Cultural Society as well as descendants of those who served in the 2nd Building Battalion.