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Canada Post Honouring Black History Month with New Commemorative Stamp: No. 2 Construction Battalion

 

Canada Post’s  newest postage stamp pays homage to the soldiers of 1916’s No. 2 Construction Battalion–100 years after its members won the right to fight overseas. 

In honour of Black History Month, this commemorative stamp recognizes the achievements of Black Canadians at a time of heavy racial adversity. At the start of WWI, Black Canadians were turned away from military service due to racial discrimination. With hope and perseverance, they pressed the Canadian government for integration, beginning in 1914. The No. 2 Construction Battalion was formed in 1916 due to a shortage of Canadian soldiers. Black Canadians were recruited from east to west, with an additional 160–or more–recruits from the United States. The Battalion finally sailed overseas in 1917, but segregation followed.

 

Members of the Battalion worked 10 hours per day, six days a week, and most never saw combat. They worked with hand tools and were burdened with harsher accommodations than white soldiers. While white recruits and Black recruits ate meals together, Black recruits were assigned different sleeping quarters and a separate hospital wing. Some Battalion members died from pneumonia and other diseases while overseas.

As Canada Post’s President and CEO Deepak Chopra acknowledges, “Their determination to serve and their contribution to the war effort were an important step on the journey to racial equality in this country. We are proud to highlight this little-known aspect of Canadians’ participation in that epic conflict.”

Commercially, the crown corporation’s No. 2 Construction Battalion stamp can be affixed onto Lettermail pieces to share your support of racial equality and Black lives movements. Available in booklets of 10, this 32 mm x 32 mm stamp showcases archival photographs and lithography in six colours. Aside from its commercial uses, this collectible also becomes a cultural reminder to illuminate marginalized experiences and the people who are forced to accept them.

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