History of black soldiers from Niagara at Canadian War Museum

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Published March 7, 2022 at 4:21 pm

"A Community At War: The Military Service of Black Canadians of the Niagara Region" is now set up at Ottawa's Canadian War Museum and willing be running there until May 8.

Black History Month ends in February. Black history in Niagara Region does not. It’s always here year-around.

In fact, the military history of black residents from Niagara is a fascinating and necessary look at the challenges within that community as they faced systemic racism unlike other soldiers.

A Niagara-centric display called “A Community At War: The Military Service of Black Canadians of the Niagara Region” is now set up at Ottawa’s Canadian War Museum and willing be running there until May 8.

Jointly presented by the Canadian War Museum and the Niagara Military Museum, they note, “Black Canadians have served their country in times of war and peace, at home and overseas. They have fought for freedom abroad even as they have struggled against systemic racial barriers denying them equality in their own country.”

They further describe, “this panel exhibition highlights the experiences of 22 Black men and women from the Niagara region and Southwestern Ontario who served their country in uniform, from the American Revolution to the present day. Their experiences offer insight into the broader experience of Black Canadians and the country’s military history.”

Now since Ottawa is a bit of a hike to see this poignant piece of history, this video provides a sneak peek – a brief tour of the exhibition with Dr. Tim Cook, Chief Historian and Director, Research at the Canadian War Museum, and a conversation between Jim Doherty, President of the Niagara Military Museum, and Warrant Officer Stephen Thomas, MB, CD of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.

For a first person look at being black in the military in modern times, stay on for the Stephen Thomas portion, starting at 13:55. He traveled to Ottawa for the ceremony a couple of weeks back to be a keynote speaker at the exhibition’s opening.

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