The effects of the Great War on African-Canadians


As a man of my skin colour, we did not have many opportunities for a good life and faced a lot of social racism. Canada was a free country and I was not a slave anymore, but some people still viewed blacks as lesser people.

But when news of the Great War approached, we were just as eager to volunteer as any other man. For me, I thought of this as a real chance to prove myself and serve my country. It signified a chance to change the views of African-Canadians.

TRIED (1914-1918)

Throughout the war, we experienced discrimination because of the colour of our skin. They said that it was a "white man's war" and we were initially rejected. But that did not stop us from being apart of this Great War and helping our country. Soon after, the No. 2 Construction Battalion was formed, the first and only all black regiment in Canadian history. Here, we would be building railways and roads and providing lumber to support the men in the trenches.

This part of our lives as African-Canadians is where we were tried and we proved that we were worth something. Click here to see how we were involved during the Great War.

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TESTED (1919-1923)

After the war ended, everyone was happy to return home to their families because we had won the war! Slowly, but surely, all of the members of the No. 2 Construction Battalion and others that served in the war were coming home and would slowly be integrating themselves back into society.

Click here to see some of the jobs that my fellow veterans took up to be apart of the working class again.

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TRANSFORMED (1924-1929)

The Great War provided us with a chance to be apart of our country. I feel that we played an important role in supporting the war, yet our contributions would not be recognized for a long time. We were still facing a great deal of oppression. The war may have brought on tremendous change, but not for the African-Canadian community.

Click here to see more of the challenges we still faced.