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First Step: Activists Reflect Apology to All-Black Battalion

The federal government issued an apology to the all-black World War I battalion last week for the racial discrimination its members endured, a move that critics said. The operation is hoped to be the first step in commemorating the battalion’s contributions.

The 2nd Construction Battalion was formed in 1916 after two years of protests by black Canadians who were turned away when they tried to enlist. There were 600 Black men enlisted with the segregated battalion, but only some of its members would join the fighting, as members were repeatedly told their help was not wanted at the money. line.

“Black people in this country have always fought for their freedom, do so through the military, do so through the courts, do so through education. deserve it,” said the justice campaigner. socialite and author Romemary Sadlier told CTV News on Saturday.

Sadlier’s grandfather was also a member of the battalion, but she never learned about the history of the 2nd Construction Battalion until much later in life.

“The fact that these are members of my family and I don’t know their history speaks to the fact that the ugliness of African-Canadian history is being made available easily and frequently through information,” she said. through our school system and through the media.

Historian and writer Kathy Grant, co-chair of the National Apology Advisory Committee that consulted the federal government about the apology, says the Canadian Archives has also digitized the records. related to the battalion.

“It’s important to acknowledge the contributions and I think the Canadian government, in addition to apologizing, ensures that the story of number 2 continues by ensuring that these (records) are kept, that the documents are preserved and available online to all,” Grant told CTV News Channel.


See the full discussion with Romemary Sadlier and Kathy Grant at the top of this article.


With files from the Canadian Press.

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