(Royal Canadian Mint)

In commemorating Black History throughout February, the Royal Canadian Mint has released a $20 coin that pays tribute to the No. 2 Construction Battalion, the first only all-Black battalion unit in Canadian military history. 

As the First World War began, hundreds of Black Canadians attempted to enlist for Canada, but racism prevented them from joining their white comrades.

In 1916, persistent lobbying and a request from the British for labour battalions provided the opportunity for a Black unit to be created.

Upon its creation, the No. 2 Construction battalion served alongside the Canadian Forestry Corps in the forests of France. 

During this time, they helped with lumber and milling operations, including the loading and transportation of finished timber by rail. 

This timber was vital to the Allied war effort, lining trenches, supporting observation posts and for the construction of aircraft in France.

A few battalion members even fought and suffered casualties while serving with other Canadian Expeditionary Force units. The battalion returned to Canada in early 1919 and was disbanded in 1920.

After years of research and advocacy, descendants of the No. 2 Construction Battalion and supporters succeeded in securing a formal apology for racism and discrimination endured by battalions members.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of National Defence Anita Anand delivered the apology before descendants gathered on July 9th, 2022, in Truro, Nova Scotia.

Now more than a year and a half later, the Royal Canadian Mint has released a $20 coin made up of 99% silver. 

The reverse side of the coin features designs by artist Kwame Delfish displaying a soldier of No. 2 Construction Battalion, standing at attention between two railroad tracks.

“The existence and accomplishments of the men of No. 2 Construction Battalion is another part of Canadian history that is to be acknowledged, celebrated and honoured -forever,” said artist Kwame Delfish in a press release. 

“I hope I was able to capture these honourable men in a way that represents their strength and resilience, while also raising awareness about the important role that No. 2 Construction Battalion had in the Canadian armed forces,” said Delfish.


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