No.2 Construction Battalion

Welcome to the website dedicated to the memory and history of No.2 Construction Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (1916–1920). Produced by the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia and the Department of National Defence working Committee.

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On Sunday, March 28th, 2021, 104 years after No.2 Construction Battalion deployed overseas, the Canadian Minister of National Defence, the Honorable Harjit S. Sajjan, announced that Canada would apologize for the treatment that the men in this Battalion faced. An apology for the racism and discrimination they endured before, during, and long after their service to Canada. The apology will come after meaningful consultation with their descendants and the Black community.

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More than one hundred years after the No.2 Construction Battalion was disbanded, we are ever grateful for their bravery and resilience in the face of hate and adversity. But more than our gratitude, we owe these members, their families, and their community an apology for the racism and discrimination they endured in their service to our country.

The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan,
Minister of National Defence

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They too felt the fervor. They too felt the desire to stand for this country, but they were told ‘This is not your war’. They were told, ‘This is a white man’s war’.

Douglas Ruck,
Black Battalion Memorial Committee Co-Chair

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Like so many Canadians who were eager to serve their country at the beginning of the First World War, Black Canadians were also ready and willing to put their lives at risk. Their contributions to the Canadian war effort were vitally important to the eventual Allied victory. Despite all that they gave, nonetheless, they were treated differently – based solely on the colour of their skin. It’s our duty as Canadians to ensure their sacrifices are never forgotten.

The Honourable Darrell Samson,
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

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The story of the No.2 Construction Battalion will resonate with many Black Canadians today, who day after day put their lives on the front lines to stand for their country, yet rarely if ever get the recognition that they so deserve. We can’t change the past, and the wrongdoings of previous generations, but can certainly choose the future that we want to live in. Although this recognition is long overdue, it is one that will allow us to move in the right direction by telling the stories of these brave members who contributed to making Canada the strong nation that it is today.

Greg Fergus,
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Digital Government, Chair of the Parliamentary Black Caucus, Member of Parliament for Hull-Aylmer

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The No.2 Construction Battalion is an integral part of the History of African Nova Scotians in Pictou County. The Battalion fought not only for their country, but also for their right to do so. Their sacrifices and accomplishments for Canada during the First World War will never be forgotten.

Sean Fraser,
Member of Parliament of Central Nova Scotia

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