Leone Andrea Izzo

Recipient of the 2023 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching
November 14, 2023

Oscar Peterson Public School, Stouffville, Ontario

The No. 2 Construction Battalion Project delves into the history of the First World War with a specific focus on Canada’s first segregated unit. The goal was to shed light on an essential chapter in Canadian history marked by systemic racism and discrimination.

Through research using primary and secondary sources, artifacts, and guest speakers, Leone Andrea Izzo and his grade eight students uncovered the untold stories of individual soldiers in the army’s largest all-Black unit. Each student created a website in the style of a digital museum exhibit, complete with photographs, documents, written historical accounts, and an interactive map. This map allowed students to plot significant events in the soldiers’ lives, highlighting their birthplaces, training grounds, and deployment locations. During Remembrance Day, students transformed their classroom into a museum where they shared their projects with their school community.

The project was carried out with the support and collaboration of the York Region District School Board Museum & Archives, as well as historian Kathy Grant, providing students with mentorship and hands-on experience in researching, curating, and commemorating this important history. The project also responds to the York Region District School Board’s Anti-Black Racism Strategy by highlighting the experiences of Canada’s Black soldiers and their descendants, contributing to a more complete and inclusive history of our country’s wartime experience.