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Young Adult Fiction Prejudice & Racism

Shovels not Rifles

A Novel

by (author) Gloria Ann Wesley

Formac Publishing Company Limited
Initial publish date
Aug 2023
Prejudice & Racism, Prejudice & Racism, General, Canada, Military & Wars, War & Military, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2023
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Aug 2023
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 13 to 18
  • Grade: 7 to 12
  • Reading age: 13 to 18


Shovels Not Rifles is the story of Will, a young Black man from a small Nova Scotia town who enlists and goes to war in the historical Black Battalion in 1916.

When Coloured men are finally allowed to enlist in the Canadian military, Will Coleman has a chance to make his late father proud, see the world and earn enough money to take care of his mother. Immediately after joining the No. 2 Construction Battalion, he learns that the members of Canada’s only all-Black battalion are not allowed to fight on the front lines. Instead, they are assigned the same forestry work they were doing at home. Not only that, Will is the target of racism and discrimination by superiors and many fellow soldiers who refuse to accept a “checkerboard army”.

Alongside his fellow soldiers in the No. 2 Construction Battalion, Will slowly faces the harsh realities of the war -- and the country he wanted to fight for.

About the author


Gloria Ann Wesley is an African Nova Scotian writer who published her first book of poetry, To My Someday Child in 1975. She later published Woman, Sing (2002) and Burlap and Lace (2007). Her first young adult fiction, Chasing Freedom, was published in 2011.

Wesley’s poetry appears in three Canadian anthologies: Canada in Us Now (Harold Head, 1976), Other Voices: Writings by Blacks in Canada (Lorris Elliott, 1985) and Fire on the Water (George Elliott Clarke, 1992). Gloria Wesley holds the distinction of being the first published Black Nova Scotian poet (by Resolution of the Nova Scotia Legislature, 5 April 2007).


Gloria Ann Wesley's profile page

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