In anticipation of Black History Month, both the Royal Canadian Mint and Canada Post are honouring Black history in Canada.
$20 FINE SILVER COIN HONOURS NO. 2 CONSTRUCTION BATTALION
The Mint is remembering the first and only all-Black, battalion-sized unit in Canadian military history, known as No. 2 Construction Battalion.
This unit was composed of volunteers, as racism prevented many from joining white Canadians in the battle overseas during the First World War.
In 1916, persistent lobbying and a request from the British for labour battalions provided the opportunity for a Black unit to be created. This sparked the creation of No. 2 Construction Battalion, who served in France.
After much advocacy, descendants of the battalion and their allies successfully campaigned for a formal apology for the racism and discrimination endured by battalion members.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of National Defence Anita Anand delivered a formal apology before descendants in Nova Scotia in July 2022.
The 2023 $20 Fine Silver Coin honouring the service of the No. 2 Construction Battalion is being released in conjunction with Black History Month.
Limited to a mintage of 5,500, the coin retails for $99.95.
The new collectible can be ordered as of Jan. 30 by contacting the Mint at 1-800-267-1871 in Canada or at www.mint.ca.
CHLOE COOLEY STAMP
A new Black History Month stamp honouring Chloe Cooley has been released by Canada Post.
Cooley had a profound impact on the history of enslavement in Canada.
She was a young, Black enslaved woman who lived in Queenston, Upper Canada, in the late 18th century.
Though enslavement in Upper Canada was on the rise at the time, attitudes toward it were shifting and the abolitionist movement was gaining momentum.
Among fears of “losing investments,” her enslaver, Sergeant Adam Vrooman, abducted Cooley.
He violently bound her and along with two other men’s assistance, dragged her to the shore of the Niagara River, according to a news release from Canada Post.
She was subsequently taken across the river to New York State, where she was sold.
Witnesses of Cooley’s abduction recounted what they saw to Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe, a known avowed abolitionist. He was able to use their testimony to introduce new legislation.
On July 9, 1793, legislation was passed in Upper Canada, and became known as the Act to Limit Slavery.
Though Cooley herself did not benefit from the legislation, she opened a pathway to freedom for others.
It wasn’t until 1833 that enslavement was officially abolished throughout the British Empire, and the last remaining enslaved persons in Upper Canada would finally be freed.
The Chloe Cooley stamp was designed by Lime Design and features the illustrative work of Rick Jacobsen.
As there are no photographs of Cooley, the illustration was created through consultation with experts in local and regional history.
The stamp and collectibles are available at canadapost.ca and postal outlets across Canada.