At seventeen,, Will Westley lies about his age to try to enlist to fight in the First World War. He is determined to make his late father proud and take care of his mother. After several unsuccessful attempts — he is rejected for his color, not his age — Will is finally accepted. He is eager and proud to join the #2 Black Battalion — Canada's first and only all-Black military regiment. But not everyone is pleased. Soon after becoming a soldier, Will experiences racism and discrimination by superiors and even some fellow soldiers, who refuse to fight alongside Black Canadians.
This book offers a true-to-life fictional account of the experiences of Black Canadians whose efforts to join up finally resulted in them being shuffled off into a segregated unit, the #2 Construction Battalion, whose assignment during the war did not include fighting. Insteady, the Battalion performed manual labour even when soldiers were ready and willing to endure the horrors of frontline fighting in the trenches.
GLORIA ANN WESLEY is the author three books of poetry and two historical novels: If This Is Freedom and Chasing Freedom, which was shortlisted for the 2012 Ann Connor Brimer Award for Young Adult Fiction. Gloria is also the author of Africville in the Righting Canada's Wrongs series (2019). She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.