African Heritage Month Celebrates No. 2 Construction Battalion
Nova Scotia's No. 2 Construction Battalion, the only predominantly African-Canadian battalion since Confederation, is this year's centrepiece for African Heritage Month.
The No. 2 Construction Battalion, also known as the Black Battalion, was created after the British Empire renewed its call for soldiers during the First World War. A separate battalion was the military's response to black men who wanted to enlist but were turned away from recruiting offices.
Lt.-Gov. J.J. Grant, Premier Stephen McNeil and African Nova Scotian Affairs Minister Tony Ince joined guests from across the province at Province House on January 27 to launch African Heritage Month 2016 in Nova Scotia. The theme is No. 2 Construction Battalion: the Legacy of Commitment - They Fought to Fight.
"Despite the great prejudice that they faced, the brave men of the No. 2 Construction Battalion voluntarily stepped-up to fight for king and country," said Lt.-Gov. Grant. "Their courage and legacy continue to inspire 100 years later and it is vital that all Nova Scotians know this history."
"African Heritage Month is a celebration of culture, history, longevity and progress," said Premier McNeil. "This year's theme of overcoming adversity to participate in the broader society resonates in all communities, but African Nova Scotians know it well."
The battalion was formed on July 5, 1916 in Pictou. Most of the more than 600 men accepted came from Nova Scotia, but others came from New Brunswick, Ontario, the West, the United States and the Caribbean.
"African Nova Scotians, like the men of the No. 2 Construction Battalion, have fought the fight for generations," said Mr. Ince. "Their determination to help defend a way of life still inspires us today."
"We are proud to help promote and preserve the legacy of the battalion," said Russell Grosse, executive director of the Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia. "They are a symbol of commitment in the face of adversity for all Nova Scotians."