Canada working towards a full apology to all-Black WWI unit


Anita Anand

Canada is still working on a full and appropriate apology for its treatment of an all-Black unit that served in WW1.

According to Defence Minister Anita Anand there are still working on a number of recommendations that would form the basis of a fulsome apology for the racist treatment to which the unit was subjected. Three of the eight recommendations are yet to be fully addressed.

Anand said that the Canadian Armed Forces have been working on implementing the recommendations, which are key to building a more inclusive culture free of racism, discrimination and biases.

“We are making headway and we will not stop until we become an organization where everyone can have a sense of belonging and know that their contribution to Canada’s defence goals will be recognized and valued.”

Last July, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued an apology for the disgraceful  treatment of the segregated, non-combatant unit — the first and only all-Black battalion in Canadian military history.

Hundreds of Black men in Canada were turned away when they volunteered to fight overseas in 1914 because they weren’t wanted in what was considered a white man’s war.

Following two years of protests, the Canadian military received approval in 1916 to establish a battalion of about 600 men. More than half of those who enlisted were from Nova Scotia.

Only a few of its members would see combat, mainly because the battalion was repeatedly told its help wasn’t wanted on the front lines, and they received no public recognition when they returned home.

The unit supported three major forestry operations while overseas, working at lumber mills and maintaining roads and railway equipment.