February 16th, 2022
This story is part of a series of Commissionaires Nova Scotia blog posts celebrating the achievements of Black Nova Scotians for African Heritage Month.
During the First World War, hundreds of Black Canadians eagerly signed up for duty. But the military rejected them because of their skin colour, so they went on to form the only all-Black battalion in the history of the Canadian Armed Forces. The No. 2 Construction Battalion was Canada’s first and only segregated military unit.
Nearly half of the battalion’s 600 members came from Nova Scotia.
CNS Board Governor Douglas Ruck, who is co-chair of the Black Battalion Historical Marker Society, spoke at an event last year when it was announced that the federal government plans to apologize to members of the No. 2 Construction Battalion for the treatment they endured during and following their service in the First World War.
“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,” says Ruck in the CBC article below.
“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.”