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WWI and WWII. African Canadian Roles. What was WWI?. It was known as First World War, the Great War, and "The War To End All Wars” It occurred in Europe between 1914 and 1918. Nine million soldiers died Had a major impact on the 20th century. Canada fought for Britain. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • WWI and WWIIAfrican Canadian Roles

  • What was WWI?It was known as First World War, the Great War, and "The War To End All Wars

    It occurred in Europe between 1914 and 1918.

    Nine million soldiers died

    Had a major impact on the 20th century.

    Canada fought for Britain

  • Black Recruitment in WWIWhen WWI broke out Blacks attempted to join the military but they were rejected.

  • Black Soldiers In WWIThere was a resistance and reluctance on the part of the Canadian military to accept blacks into the armed forces. They did not think that white soldiers wanted to fight along side black soldiers.Despite these obstacles, blacks volunteered and urgedother blacks to join.Right = Recruiting officein Canada

  • This later turned into a problem as more soldiers were needed. Due to the humiliation of rejection, it was hard to recruit black soldiers when needed.The white officers had the mentality that this was a white mans war. They were in charge of choosing who was allowed in, therefore many Blacks were not allowed in.Not ALL blacks who attempted to enlist were rejected. Many quit their jobs and left their families only to be rejected by the white officers. They would harass them and send them back home where when they arrived they would have to try and pick up the pieces of their life.

  • We dont want a checker board ArmyWas a comment made by many in the army stating that they did not want an integrated army. As Colonel Ogilvie reported in a letter to Council Headquarters, Several cases of coloured applicants for enlistment have been reported on by Officers Commanding units and the universal opinion is that if this were allowed it would do much harm, as white men here will not serve in the same ranks with negroes or coloured persons.This displayed the attitudes that were prevalent in the military and society at the time.

  • Construction No. 2 BattalionBlack Leaders started to put pressure on the government to form an all black battalion.In 1916, The No. 2 Construction Battalion was formed.

  • No. 2 Construction BattalionThe No. 2 Construction Battalion was the first and only all Black Battalion.There were approximately 1000 men in this battalion. 500 of the men were from Nova Scotia. Later some Americans joined. It was based out of Truro/Pictou. From 1917-1919 they spent time building railroads for the final attacks against Germany.

  • No. 2 Construction BattalionThey were not allowed to fight but rather help make fighting easier for whites with construction. They did meet many important needs of the war. i.e. providing lumber to reinforce the trenches. The battalion disbanded in 1920. Battalions are not separated on race or ethnicity anymore.

  • No. 2 Construction Battalion

  • ConscriptionIn 1917, there were many causalities in France.

    It was clear that the troops overseas needed more reinforcements and Ottawa passed the Military Service Act.

    The Military Service Act became law, which was conscription.Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of citizens for military service.

    This act made every British subject between the ages 20 45 liable for service in the Canadian Military, black or white.

  • Conscription Was seen as a slap in the face to Blacks as they had previously tried to enter the military but were not allowed. Now they were being forced to enter.

  • Nova Scotia ConscriptionI was around 18 years of age and I had gone to Dartmouth with my horse and wagon to pick up some groceries. The conscription officers grabbed me for the army. My brother-in-law, Harry Sparks, told them I was too young. They took both of us to Halifax. My father came in and they let me go. Harry Sparks was conscripted into the army and ended up overseas. - John Crawley of North Preston.

  • In Sydney, after the war started, quite a few Blacks volunteered for active service and were told point blank, we dont want you, this is a White mans war. However, around 1917, the Canadian Army was up against it, they had lost a lot of men in France. At that point they were willing to take anyone. Conscription came in and they took Blacks and Whites. You had no choice you had to go. - Issac Phills.

  • 1920s-30sRoaring 20s and Dirty 30sIn the 1920s Canada was in a state of economic growth. Many Blacks started to move to cities where there was strong Black Pride and less fear of racism. One of the issues that arose of that Blacks were unable to afford the high cost of rent and had to share homes with many families in run down areas. Ghettos began to develop.

  • 1920sThe 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banned the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol. Many people from the USA started to take the train to Montreal on weekends for entertainment.

  • MontrealIn the 1920s, black musicians and dancers became very popular around the world. Louis Armstrong was the most popular musician amongst white and black fans.Because of prohibition in the USA, popular black entertainers started to perform in Montreal.Montreal was then referred to as Little Harlem or The Canadian Harlem

  • MontrealBlacks entertainers played at white only night clubs that did not allow black fans.However, black night clubs started to open up and became very successful.

  • The Great Depression

  • The Great DepressionIn the late 1920s, Canadas economy and stock exchanges were booming. From 1921 to the autumn of 1929, the level of stock prices increased more than three times. But these days came to a swift end with the stock market crash on Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, in New York, Toronto, Montral and other financial centres in the world. Shareholders panicked and sold their stock for whatever they could get.Overnight, individuals and companies were ruined

  • The crash set off a chain of events that plunged Canada and the world into a decade-long depression. It was the beginning of the Dirty Thirties. The problems of the Great Depression affected virtually every group of Canadians. No group was harder hit than African Canadians. By 1932, approximately half of black Canadians were out of work.

  • Black Canadians were first to lose their jobs and the last in line to receive items from food banks and shelters.

  • Black Canadian PortersA porter was one of the best jobs for a Black Canadian. It gave them pride and respect in the community. This was because it brought steady money in. They were also regarded as leaders in the community for their ability to unite people across the country. They were the least powerful people on the trains. Every white employee on the train had the ability to fire a Black person. White people brought their racism on the trains and treated Blacks as inferiorMany porters were fired for punching passengers in the mouth for treating them rudely.They developed a union and gave themselves power.

  • KKK By 1929 the KKK was in most provinces in Canada. They had newspapers and supported campaigns of white supremacist politicians. They also used direct action, such as burning crosses to intimidate Black people. 1926 the KKK used dynamite to damage a Church in Barrie, ON. This caused a public outrage and the KKK fell apart in Barrie. The KKK also fell apart after the Great Depression

  • World War II1939-1945

    It was a war of racism

    Conflict on all continents except for the two Americas

    Most widespread war ever experienced

    Over 100 million soldiers from 61 nations

  • In WWII, the units were integrated but racism was very evident. The Second World War didnt end racism. In fact, many black soldiers went overseas to fight for their country only to return and be denied their old jobs.

  • WWII IronyThere is a very noticeable case of irony in the efforts of Canadian soldiers fighting in WWII. Although they were sent overseas to fight against racism and tyranny of Adolf Hitler, they were actually leaving a country in which racial problems still existed.The black soldiers left their country to fight for the freedom, while nobody was fighting for their own freedom.

  • CONCLUSIONBlack Soldiers have played an important role in the history of Canada.


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