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- The Royal Canadian Mint honors black history with a coin dedicated to the black Canadian volunteers of the 2nd Construction Battalion
OTTAWA, ON, Jan. 30, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Construction Battalion 2, the first and only all-black battalion-sized unit in Canadian military history, is remembered in the 2023 Commemoration series from the Royal Canadian Mint's Black History. In the early years of World War I, hundreds of black Canadians tried to enlist for Canada, but racism prevented many from joining their white compatriots on battlefields overseas. In 1916 persistent pressure and a request for battalions of manpower by the British provided an opportunity to create a black unit. The 2nd Construction Battalion would serve alongside the Canadian Forest Corps in the forests of France. They assisted in sawing and milling operations, including loading and transporting finished lumber by rail. This wood was vital to the Allied war effort, lining trenches, supporting observation posts and building aircraft in France. Some members of the battalion even fought and suffered casualties while serving with other Canadian Expeditionary Force units. The battalion returned to Canada in early 1919 and was disbanded in 1920.
After much research, writing, storytelling and advocacy, the descendants of the 2nd Construction Battalion and their allies successfully campaigned for a formal apology for the racism and discrimination suffered by members of the battalion, which the Right Honorable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, and the Honorable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defense, present before descendants gathered in Truro, Nova Scotia, on July 9, 2022.
Released in celebration of the annual Black History Month, the commemorative silver $20 Black History coin honors the service and sacrifice of the proud members of the 2nd Construction Battalion. It is available starting today.
"At the outbreak of World War I, many black men felt called to serve their country. Many were turned away due to anti-black racism. After years of lobbying, the 2nd Construction Battalion was chartered in 1916," Russell Grosse stated. , executive director of the Nova Scotia Black Cultural Center. "These brave men had to fight for the right to serve, providing valuable logistical support to the front lines. This coin commemorates the remarkable legacy of the number 2 and builds on the official apology the Government of Canada issued last summer for ensure that this important history is remembered.
"Those who step up to serve our country deserve to be honored. But for far too long - and for no other reason than the color of their skin - the men of Construction Battalion No. 2 received the recognition their service to Canada deserved. "said the Honorable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. "We have a responsibility to remember their sacrifice, and this coin will help more Canadians know and honor those who fought for the right to serve so bravely in uniform."
"Despite suffering discrimination before, during and after their service in the Great War, the men of the 2nd Construction Battalion bravely served our country. We are forever in their debt," said the Honorable Anita Anand, Defense Minister National. "Along with Canada's official apology to Battalion members and descendants last summer, this coin will commemorate their remarkable contributions and help raise awareness of the Battalion. Today, we reaffirm our appreciation to these brave men and vow to never forget your service to Canada".
The reverse of this 99.99% pure silver coin, by artist Kwame Delfish, shows a soldier from the 2nd Construction Battalion standing at attention between two railway tracks. To his right, next to a landscape in France's Jura region, where the battalion helped fell trees and build a railway, is the battalion's cap insignia. To his left, fellow battalions marching in a parade prior to their deployment to Europe in March 1917.
"The existence and achievements of the men of the 2nd Construction Battalion is another part of Canadian history to be forever recognized, celebrated and honored," explained artist Kwame Delfish. "I hope I've been able to portray these honorable men in a way that represents their strength and resilience, while raising awareness of the important role 2nd Construction Battalion played in the Canadian armed forces."
The obverse of the coin features an updated design that will appear on collector coins and bullion in 2023 until a new permanent obverse is adopted on Canadian coins. The effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, designed by Susanna Blunt, on a repeating background of maple leaves, is accompanied by a special mark consisting of a vertical inscription of the dates "1952" and "2022", separated by four pearls symbolizing the four effigies that have graced Canadian coinage throughout the reign.
"The Royal Canadian Mint is proud to continue to support the national celebration of Black History Month with a beautiful silver coin that brings to life the much-needed story of the 2nd Construction Battalion," said Marie Lemay, President and CEO of Royal Canadian Mint. "Each new coin adds a piece to the incredible mosaic that is Canadian history, and we are pleased to be able to permanently record the honorable achievements of the men of the 2nd Construction Battalion on a beautiful silver coin that can be passed down through the generations." ".
Limited to a mintage of 5,500, the $20 sterling silver coin commemorating Black History - 2023 Construction Battalion No. 2 retails for $99.95. This new collectible can be ordered starting today by contacting the Mint at 1-800-267-1871 in Canada, 1-800-268-6468 in the United States, or at www.mint.ca. It will also be available at Royal Canadian Mint stores in Ottawa and Winnipeg, at participating Canada Post outlets and through the Royal Canadian Mint's worldwide network of dealers and distributors.
Images of the coin available here.
About the Royal Canadian Mint
The Royal Canadian Mint is the Crown corporation responsible for the minting and distribution of Canadian coins intended for circulation. The Royal Canadian Mint is one of the largest and most versatile in the world, offering a wide range of high-quality, specialist coinage products and related services internationally. For more information about the Mint, its products and services, visit www.mint.ca. Follow the Fábrica de la Moneda on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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