Cite

Gus Este & The Black Canadian War Experience

By: Coleen & Greg Birkett

Coleen Birkett

Historical/Educational Contributor

Coleen Birkett is an educator with over twenty years of classroom experience. In addition to teaching, Coleen has, as a freelance writer, written many articles for community publications. She has also co-authored the textbook Black History: Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas, which is in use in school boards throughout the GTA, Nova Scotia and Bermuda. She has been involved with the Ontario Black History Society as a curriculum writer and consultant. Additionally, Coleen is instrumental in providing leadership in the development, organization and facilitation of very successful educational forums for youth during Black Heritage month.

Coleen’s experience as an educator is quite diverse as she has taught in Central America, Toronto and Bermuda in both public and private schools. She has developed and presented workshops to educators in West Africa and Bermuda. Additionally, Coleen was selected to be a member of an evaluation team to assess the eligibility of a private school in New York for accreditation. In 2009, she was a recipient of the Award for Excellence in Teaching for her work in Bermuda. Miss Birkett has also worked as an Instructional Coach for the Toronto District School Board’s Literacy and Numeracy initiative. Coleen is a co-developer and co-presenter of See Us, Learn Us: Teaching the Black Canadian Experience, a nation-wide webinar for educators in partnership with Nelson Education. She has also served as a CRRP Reviewer for Nelson’s Grade 9 Destreamed Math online resources and student textbook. Coleen is currently involved in writing resources for Nelson Education based on the material presented in the See Us, Learn Us Webinar as well as for literacy. Additionally, Coleen works with school boards in Canada sharing innovative resources and strategies for incorporating the Black Canadian experience across the curriculum from Kindergarten through grade 12.

Greg Birkett

Historical/Educational Contributor

Greg Birkett is a published co-author (Black History: Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas – Emond Montgomery Publications, The Great Black North Poetry Anthology-Frontenac House Poetry) and a recognized educator (Governor-General Award for Teaching Excellence Finalist, 2011, A.H.E.N. Excellence in Teaching Award winner, 2016). Greg has written curriculum for the Ontario Ministry of Education and has served as a curriculum consultant for the OBHS (Ontario Black History Society). He is also the co-developer and co-presenter of See Us, Learn Us: Teaching the Black Canadian Experience, a nationwide webinar for educators and education stakeholders in partnership with Nelson Education. He has and continues to create material and resources for Nelson’s digital learning eco-base Edwin, some of which correspond with the topics presented in the See Us, Learn Us webinar. Greg has also worked as Senior Writer for the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Kids website and has also written freelance for the Toronto Star. Greg is a poet and playwright: Two plays that Greg wrote, Do You Remember Me and Pieces of a Black Woman’s Soul, were performed at the Toronto Fringe Festival, Toronto’s largest theatre and performance festival, and for sold-out audiences at the Sandbox Theatre in downtown Toronto respectively.

Greg is the founder of G.I.A. Productions, a youth-focused organization that uses the artistic mediums of spoken word, drama, dance, and music to stage original productions that promote education, history, and positivity in the community. He has appeared on CityTV News and Breakfast Television, Global News, CTV News to discuss issues pertaining to anti-Black racism, its impact on the education system, and strategies to address these ongoing challenges. He has also been featured in articles in the Globe and Mail, the National Observer, The Toronto Star, CBC News and Saltwire highlighting his leadership in the development of resources that promote inclusive education.

This podcast was created by Birkett Educational Consultants Inc as part of Defining Moments Canada’s project titled In Defence of Hopes Profound: Canada and the Korean War. The Korean War, often the forgotten war, is very much a part of Canada’s Defining Moments. Another forgotten aspect of the Korean War and other wars in which Canada participated is the involvement of Black Canadian soldiers.

Education Resources

Gus Este & The Black Canadian War Experience Learning Guide

This learning guide looks at some key themes that are involved in the
discussion of Black Canadian involvement in Canada’s war efforts.
It includes Key Questions and instructions for prompts for students, before, during and after listenning to the podcast.

Stories

Gus Este & The Black Canadian War Experience Podcast

This podcast was created by Birkett Educational Consultants Inc as part of Defining Moments Canada’s project titled In Defence of Hopes Profound: Canada and the Korean War. The Korean War, often the forgotten war, is very much a part of Canada’s Defining Moments. Another forgotten aspect of the Korean War and other wars in which Canada participated is the involvement of Black Canadian soldiers.

Story Maps

Gus Este & The Black Canadian War Experience StoryMap

This StoryMap collection includes all the resources linked to the Black Canadian Experience Podcast, organised visually to help learners interact with the content in different ways.

Additional Resources & Works Cited

Websites & Digital Resources

Abedi, Maham. ““They Fought to Fight”: How Black Canadians Battled Racism to Serve the Country.” Global News, 11 Nov. 2019, globalnews.ca/news/6147380/black-canadians-soldiers-world-war-racism/. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

Berthiaume, Lee. “Black Canadians Fought Racism, Discrimination to Serve in Second World War | CBC News.” CBC, 8 Nov. 2020, www.cbc.ca/news/politics/black-canadians-second-world-war-1.5793974. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

“Black History”. Black Canadian Veteran Stories. www.blackcanadianveterans.com. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

“Este, Clarence “Gus.”” Black Canadian Veteran Stories, 10 Dec. 2021, www.blackcanadianveterans.com/post/este-clarence-gus. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

“Patrick, Erroll.” Black Canadian Veteran Stories, 10 Dec. 2021, www.blackcanadianveterans.com/post/patrick-erroll. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

“Black Canadians in Uniform — a Proud Tradition”. Veterans Affairs Canada, 26 Feb. 2020, www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/people-and-stories/black-canadians. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

CBC News. “Black Soldiers from Guelph Honoured in Digital Project.” CBC, 11 Nov. 2020, www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/black-canadian-soldiers-guelph-project-1.5797029. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

Chelangat, Valerie. “Black Contribution in War Efforts.” The Uniter, 12 Nov. 2012. uniter.ca/view/black-contribution-in-war-efforts. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

Joost, Mathias. “Black Canadians and Conscription in the First World War” The Canadian Encyclopedia, Feb. 2022. www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/black-canadians-and-conscription-in-the-first-world-war. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

Leeder, Jessica. “Black on the Battlefield: Canada’s Forgotten First World War Battalion.” The Globe and Mail, 9 Nov. 2018. www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-black-on-the-battlefield-canadas-forgotten-first-world-war-battalion/. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

Mathieu, Dr. Sarah-Jane. “Black Canadians and Canada’s Military”. Canadian War Museum. www.warmuseum.ca/learn/black-canadians-and-canadas-military/. Accessed 17 Mar. 2023.

Patrick, Keith. “Errol Eric Jr. Patrick” Beechwood Cemetery, Jan. 2021, beechwoodottawa.ca/en/services/errol-patrick. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

Vincent, Donovan. “Black Canadian Soldier’s Life and D-Day Exploits Remembered.” The Toronto Star, 24 Sept. 2013, www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/09/24/black_canadian_soldiers_life_and_dday_exploits_remembered.html. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

Books & Articles

Alexander, Ken, and Avis Glaze. Towards Freedom. Toronto, Ontario, Umbrella Press, 1996, pp. 62–63, 124–126. Read about the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Company an all Black regiment, and Black Canadian involvement in World War I.

Crawford Kilian. Go Do Some Great Thing : The Black Pioneers of British Columbia. Madeira Park, British Columbia, Harbour Publishing, 2020, pp. 86–91, 175–189. Read about the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps, an all Black militia unit formed in 1860.

Fil Fraser. How the Blacks Created Canada. Edmonton, Dragon Hill Pub, 2009, pp. 112–120. Read about the No. 2 Construction Battalion, the all Black battalion of World War I and William Edward Hall, the first Nova Scotian and first Black person to win the Empire’s highest award for bravery.

George Robert Fosty, and Darril Fosty. Black Ice: The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes 1895 – 1925. 2008. Halifax, Nimbus Publishing Ltd., 2017, pp. 160–180. Read about the formation and service of the No. 2 Construction Battalion in the Chapter entitled “A Battalion of Forgotten Soldiers.”

Hansen, Jan. Moments in Canadian Black History Gr. 4-8. Napanee, Ontario, On The Mark Press, 2004, pp. 56–57. Read about Seymour Tyler who served Canada in both world wars.

Humber, William. A Sporting Chance: Achievements of African-Canadian Athletes. Toronto, Natural Heritage/Natural History Inc., 2004, pp. 8–11. Read about the racial climate in Canada around the time periods of World War I and II in the chapter entitled “The Black Experience in Canada.”

Livesey, Robert, and A G Smith. Black Heritage. Markham, Ont., Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2006, pp. 54–59. Read about Black Canadian soldiers Richard Pierpoint and William Hall and Black Canadian involvement in The Mackenzie Rebellion of 1837.

Martin, Jeff A.D. Brothers from Canada: Role Models in Canadian Black History. Jeff A.D. Martin, 2023. Read about John “Army” Howard, Canada’s first Black Olympian who also served in World War I. Also read about “Black Soldiers Fighting for Canada” in World War I and World War II.

Mathieu, Sarah-Jane. North of the Color Line: Migration and Black Resistance in Canada, 1870-1955. Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 2010, pp. 100–142. Read about the racial climate in Canada and Black Canadian military experiences during World War I in the Chapter entitled “Fighting the Empire.”

Newton, Akilah, and Tami Gabay. Les Grands Rêveurs: Le Cahier d’Activités Pour Enfants Sur l’Histoire Des Noirs Au Canada Volume 1. Vol. 1, Canada, Akilah Newton Projects Inc., 2020, p. 18. Lisez une version bien condensée de l’histoire du bataillon de construction n ° 2, le bataillon canadien entièrement noir de la Première Guerre mondiale.

Newton, Akilah, and Tami Gaby. Big Dreamers: The Canadian Black History Activity Book for Kids. Vol. 1, Canada, Bright Confetti Media Inc., 2018, p. 17. Read a nicely condensed version of the story of the No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canada’s all Black Battalion of World War I.

Newton, Akilah, and Omari Newton. Big Dreamers. Vol. 2, Canada, Akilah Newton Projects Inc., 2020, p. 19. Read about Piercy Augustus Haynes, the first Black person in the modern Royal Canadian Navy in World War II.

Newton, Akilah, and Omari Newton. Grands Reveurs: Le Cahier d’Activités Pour Enfants Sur l’Histoire Des Noirs Au Canada. Vol. 2, Canada, Akilah Newton Projects Inc., 2022, p. 19. Découvrez Piercy Augustus Haynes, le premier Noir de la Marine royale canadienne moderne pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale.

Reynolds, Graham. Viola Desmond’s Canada : A History of Blacks and Racial Segregation in the Promised Land. Halifax ; Winnipeg, Fernwood Publishing, 2016, pp. 39–41, 51–52. Read about Black Canadian involvement in the War of 1812 and the Mackenzie Rebellion as well as the racial climate in Canada around the time of WWI.

Ruck, Calvin W. The Black Battalion : 1916-1920 : Canada’s Best Kept Military Secret. Halifax, Ns, Nimbus Publishing, 2016. Read the full story of Canada’s all Black No. 2 Construction Battalion that served in World War I.

Sadlier, Rosemary. The Kids Book of Black Canadian History. Toronto, Kids Can Press, 2010, pp. 22–23; 40-41. Read about Black Canadian involvement in the War of 1812 in the chapter entitled “The Colored Corps” and about their involvement in the two world wars in the chapter entitled “Fighting in Two World Wars.”

Sadlier, Rosemary, and Gregory Birkett et al. Black History : Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas. 2009. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute, 2018. Read about the Black Canadian involvement in military efforts in the chapter entitled “Oppression and Resistance: Canada and the United States.”

Tiyahna Ridley-Padmore. Trailblazers : The Black Pioneers Who Have Shaped Canada. Toronto, Ontario: Indigo Press, 2020, pp. 9–10. Read about Richard Pierpoint who fought in the War of 1812. Written in poetic form for younger children.

Winks, Robin W. The Blacks in Canada : A History. 2nd ed., Montreal, Mcgill-Queen’s Univ. Press, 2008, pp. 312–320. Read about the racial climate in Canada at the time of World War I, the reluctance of the army to enlist Black volunteers and the experiences of those who were enlisted.