Did you know? Nova Scotia’s Black Battalion, No. 2 Construction

by K Fells October 30, 2017

The only predominantly black battalion in Canadian military history, the No. 2 Construction Battalion was formed in Nova Scotia.

No. 2 Construction was the only Canadian battalion composed of black soldiers to serve in the First World War, but its soldiers were originally unable to enlist.

Since before the first Great War, blacks served the British and French crowns with loyalty, honour and respect.  So it was a surprise to many blacks that when the war started in 1914, their enlistment would not be entertained.

Needless to say, sayings such as “We don’t want a checkerboard army,” and “This is a white man’s war,” devastated many blacks. The struggle for human rights was going to have to raise itself for black men to have the right to die for their own country.

Now this also played out for Southeast Asian, Chinese and Japanese men.  At any rate, the powers that were knew that Quebec was against conscription. So when they witnessed so many white, English soldiers coming home dead and dismembered, blacks were permitted to enlist. To make things difficult, they were placed as far away from major centres in Pictou as possible. This was the kind of racism that existed, and even though many blacks served gallantly with distinguished service they went through the same thing during the next Great War.

To learn more, go to http://www.blackhistorycanada.ca

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