Nova Scotia

Bidding keeps rare medal out of N.S. museum

A rare war medal for sale on the internet remains out of the Black Cultural Centre's reach, but several groups are offering to help.

Business group, call centre workers offer money

A rare war medal for sale on the internet remains out of the Black Cultural Centre's reach, but several groups are offering to help.

"It belongs to Nova Scotia," said Henry Bishop, curator and director of the centre in Dartmouth. "It's an honourable thing to do to bring it home."

The bidding for the First World War Victory Medal awarded to Sapper Percy Fenton, a black soldier from Nova Scotia, had climbed to $1,840 by Thursday afternoon, and there's still a day to go.

The medal was awarded to soldiers of the 2nd Construction Battalion, which was based in Pictou, N.S., and was the only black Canadian unit in the war.

Like all black Canadians at the time, the first battle Fenton faced was getting into the army. It wasn't until 1916, two years after the start of the war, that black Canadians were allowed to serve in support roles. They were never issued weapons.

Bishop would like toadd Fenton's medal to the centre's collection, where a similar medal is on display. But as a non-profit group, it doesn't have the money to buy it, he said.

If the government can help, Bishop added, it should.

However, Premier Rodney MacDonald wouldn't commit to footing the bill when asked Thursday.

Groups raise funds

Fenton was from Yarmouth County, and several groups in the region have come forward with offers to help. The Southwest Shore Development Authority is offering $500, and workers at a call centre say they have raised more than $2,000.

It's not illegal to sell military medals, and there are many of them on eBay. However, few command the price of a 2nd Construction Battalion Victory Medal.

Nova Scotia MP Peter Stoffer, the NDP veterans affairs critic, is against the private sale of a Fenton's medal and has introduced a bill that would stop the sale of any Canadian military medal.

Stoffer also wants the person selling medal to donate it instead to the Black Cultural Centre.

The seller of Fenton's medal, who lives in Nova Scotia, refused an interview with CBC News.

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