2023 Black History coin for only Black WWI unit

The next coin in the Royal Canadian Mint’s “Commemorating Black History” series, launched in 2019, will honour the No. 2 Construction Battalion, the largest Black unit in Canadian history.

At a July 9 ceremony in Truro, N.S., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Mint will issue a pure silver collector coin to honour the battalion during Black History Month in February 2023.

“This will allow people across the country to join us in remembering these Canadian heroes and their incredible legacy,” said Trudeau, who apologized at the recent ceremony on behalf of the federal government for “the blatant anti-Black hate and systemic racism that denied these men dignity in life and in death.”

After facing widespread rejections while trying to enlist for service in the First World War, people in Black communities across Canada pressured the government and military officials to intervene. The No. 2 Construction Battalion was formed in 1916 as a segregated unit – the first and only all-Black battalion-sized formation in Canadian military history. More than 600 men – mostly from Nova Scotia but also from New Brunswick, Ontario, Western Canada, the United States and the West Indies – were initially accepted following a nationwide recruitment effort.

The Black History series previously honoured businesswoman and activist Viola Desmond (2019), hockey trailblazer Willie O’Ree (2020), Black Loyalists during the American Revolution (2021) and the Underground Railroad (2022).

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