Statement from the Minister of National Defence on the anniversary of the apology to descendants of No. 2 Construction Battalion members


July 9, 2023 – Ottawa, ON – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence issued the following statement today on the anniversary of the apology to descendants and members of No. 2 Construction Battalion:

“One year ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and I delivered an apology on behalf of the Government of Canada for the systemic anti-Black racism that members of No. 2 Construction Battalion endured before, during, and long after the First World War. This apology was necessary in acknowledging the hurt that has been caused and in beginning to rectify its negative impacts.

“In preparation for this apology, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) worked with a community-led National Apology Advisory Committee (NAAC), made up of the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia, community leaders, historians, and No. 2 Construction Battalion descendants.

“The NAAC conducted six cross-Canada community consultations in which 690 descendants of former members of No. 2 Construction Battalion participated. Using the information gathered, the NAAC Report proposed eight recommendations to the Government of Canada.

“Since then, the Department of National Defence (DND) and CAF has been working unceasingly on implementing these recommendations. This work is key to building a more inclusive culture free of racism, discrimination, and biases.

“We continue to work diligently to implement these recommendations and we will not stop until we become an organization where everyone can have a sense of belonging and know that their contribution to Canada’s defence goals will be recognized and valued.

“In line with Recommendation 5, the Department of National Defence is currently working on the creation and implementation of a long-term legacy fund that creates ongoing opportunities for honouring, remembrance and education about the No. 2 Construction Battalion.

“To fulfill Recommendation 6, which asked that descendants and families of No. 2 Construction Battalion be given a memento, the NAAC and the Organization Committee for the No. 2 Construction Battalion Apology Event proposed commissioning a Commemorative Quilt. The quilt is being made by members of the Black Artists Network of Nova Scotia (BANNS) who were asked to incorporate the necessary artistic and historic perspectives of the No. 2 Construction Battalion. The presentation of the commemorative quilt is planned as part of the July 2024 Perpetuation Ceremony in Pictou, Nova Scotia. We continue to work closely with the community, descendants, and the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia to advance this progress and honour the No.2 Construction Battalion.

“At the same time, we are taking steps to implement the recommendations from the Minister of National Defence Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism and Discrimination. The Advisory Panel report guides our current and future work to eliminate racism and discrimination in all forms, and there are many intersections between this report and the National Apology Advisory Committee’s No. 2 Construction Battalion recommendations. As part of this work, we have established a Directorate of Anti-Racism Implementation as a permanent organization within the Chief Professional Conduct and Culture (CPCC) organization. We have also established a secretariat to support our Defence Advisory Groups and the important work that they do, elevating observations or concerns of their communities for senior leadership to consider and act upon.

“This deliberate and targeted work, combined with complementary efforts to improve training and education, leadership competencies, and recruitment screening procedures, mean that change for the better is inevitable and achievable.

“When I meet with Defence Team members across Canada and on operations all over the world, I see their clear desire to support and advance on meaningful culture change. Together, we will continue to make meaningful progress and ensure that our members are protected, respected, and empowered to serve.

Associated Links


Daniel Minden
Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of National Defence

Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-904-3333

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