The Canadian authorities plans to formally apologize to members of the No. 2 Construction Battalion — the nation’s first and solely segregated navy unit — for the therapy they endured throughout and following their service within the First World War.
Many Black males had been rejected from enlisting throughout the First World War due to their pores and skin color, so Canada allowed them to kind the No. 2 Construction Battalion in 1916. Nearly half of the battalion’s 600 members got here from Nova Scotia.
The announcement of the intent to apologize in a “meaningful and respectful way” occurred at a digital occasion on Sunday afternoon in collaboration with the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia in Cherry Brook, N.S..
“Our country is still struggling with the insidious effects of racism,” Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan mentioned in his digital deal with.
“More than 100 years later, we can combat it by recognizing the failures of our past and working to correct them.”
Sajjan took time in his deal with to acknowledge the late Capt. George Borden, who spent years selling the historical past of Black Canadians within the navy. Borden died final 12 months.
“His leadership in Nova Scotia’s Black community was inspiring. We remember and honour his contributions to our country, and we will uphold his legacy and ensure these stories are told and heard,” Sajjan mentioned.
Douglas Ruck, co-chair of the Black Battalion Historical Marker Society, was one of many audio system on the occasion.
“I’m very pleased to be here but it’s sad because of those who could not be here. Family members of the battalion, my father [former senator Calvin Ruck], Capt. George [Borden], they’re no longer with us,” Ruck mentioned.
“They should be sitting in these seats, they should be online listening to this, they should be part of it. And because of that, we must take this, we must take the pride in it, and we must continue with this message.”
Ruck’s father is credited with bringing the battalion’s story to prominence when after writing The Black Battalion 1916-1920: Canada’s Best Kept Military Secret in regards to the members’ struggles.
“Unfortunately, that title still applies in many ways today…. If it hadn’t been for that book my father wrote back in 1987, I say to you now, with pride, they would have been forgotten,” Ruck mentioned.
Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin, who spoke nearly on the occasion, referred to as the information of the apology “long overdue.”
The occasion was closed to the general public resulting from gathering limits. Descendants of the individuals who served within the No. 2 Construction Battalion, in addition to members of the Black Battalion Historical Maker Society and the Black Cultural Society, had been invited to attend.
For extra tales in regards to the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success tales inside the Black neighborhood — try Being Black in Canada, a CBC venture Black Canadians may be happy with. You can learn extra tales right here.