Monday, February 6“Racism never sleeps.”

Trudeau apologizes for Canada’s anti-Black racism during World War I

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a public apology on Saturday to the nation’s Black citizens for the racism Black Canadians were subjected to during the first World War.

At a ceremony in Nova Scotia, Trudeau and Canadian officials apologized for systemic racism Black members of No. 2 Construction Battalion experienced throughout the first World War.

In 1914, Black men in Canada who tried to volunteer to fight were rejected because they weren’t considered worthy since they were not White. A segregated unit was established two years later but most of the soldiers never engaged in battle because they were told they were not wanted.

In a statement posted Saturday, the prime minister said:

“For the blatant anti-Black hate and systemic racism that denied these men dignity in life and in death, we are sorry. Only when the truths of the past are acknowledged can we begin to dress the wounds they created and build a better, more inclusive Canada for all. I would like to thank the descendants of No.2 Construction Battalion, members of the National Apology Advisory Committee, and members of Black communities in Nova Scotia and across Canada for their important advocacy which was instrumental in bringing this day forward. The story of No. 2 Construction Battalion, and the stories of bravery, honour, and sacrifice of many other trailblazing Canadians, will play an important role in ensuring this horrible treatment never occurs again.”

More about the historic apology can be found here.

Opinion: Canada, once North America’s symbol of racial progress and refuge, has lost its image as a racial melting pot. Canada is still miles ahead the U.S. in terms of how it handles racism, not to mention issues such as gun control laws and women’s rights, but they still have a lot of work to do. This is partially evidenced by an admission by Trudeau himself about systemic racism in policing there and a report released last month about pervasive racial profiling in Toronto law enforcement. Reminder: This apology comes from Trudeau, who was rightfully criticized for all of the Black-face makeup he was exposed for wearing before he became prime minister. Are these admissions of guilt and apologies sincere or just a part of Trudeau’s mea culpa? Black Canadians deserve better.