Tribute highlights Black men’s fight to serve in First World War


World War I; Canada; No. 2 Construction Battalion


Blaine Courtney’s great uncle, Henry Francis Courtney, served in the battalion and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery’s newly created Military Heritage Trail.

Many Black people were rejected from enlisting in the war because of prevailing racism.

Black community leaders protested the exclusion of the majority of Black men who tried to enlist as soldiers and the British War Office agreed to allow the No. 2 Construction Battalion, which was created on July 5, 2016 in response.

Black men were allowed to dig trenches, build roads, bridges and railways, lay barbed wire and bury the dead under dangerous conditions overseas.


Scott Dunn




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