Black History in British Columbia

Learn more about the history of Black Canadians in our province. “For close to 30 years BC Black History Awareness Society has hosted a Black History Month program to recognize and celebrate the achievements and contributions of historical and contemporary people of African descent.” BC Black History Awareness Society.

Source: BCHSAS

Visit the virtual museum exhibit: British Columbia’s Black Pioneers.

Black History Month: Ours to Tell

From Canadian Heritage:

“The 2023 theme for Black History Month is: “Ours to tell”. This theme represents both an opportunity to engage in open dialogue and a commitment to learning more about the stories Black communities in Canada have to tell about their histories, successes, sacrifices and triumphs.”

Find out more:

Black History Month

February is Black History Month. Join us in the School Library as we explore, acknowledge and celebrate Black History, with an emphasis on the experience of Canadians of African descent, African-Americans, and other peoples in the world-wide African diaspora.

Come down to see featured displays of books and other library materials for Black History Month. And throughout February, look here for more online content, including more about Black Canadians such as Fergie Jenkins, Rosemary Brown, Willie O’Ree, Michaëlle Jean, Lincoln Alexander, Viola Davis Desmond, and Drake.

Lincoln Alexander Day

Lincoln Alexander was born on this day in 1922 in Toronto. He would go on to become Lt. Governor of Ontario.

Mr. Alexander was the son of immigrants from Jamaica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He would grow up in Toronto, serve in the RCAF during World War Two, earn degrees from McMaster University and York University, and eventually go on to practice law. In the 1960’s he entered politics, and in 1968 was elected to the House of Commons, the first Black Canadian to become a Member of Parliament. He would later become the first Black Canadian to become a Cabinet Minister, serving in the brief Joe Clark government of 1979. In 1985 Lincoln Alexander became the Lt. Governor of Ontario, a post he held until 1991, again the first Black Canadian to hold a vice-regal position. Mr. Alexander died in 2012. In 2015 the government of Canada established January 21 as Lincoln Alexander Day.

Find out more:

The Canadian Encyclopedia

Parliament of Canada

Province of Ontario

Lt. Governors of Ontario

Black History is Canadian History

Black History Month comes to a conclusion today. However, the teaching and learning of Black History cannot be limited to the month of February. Black History Month is a time to celebrate the lives of people of African heritage who have built Canada, the U.S., and the world as we know it. It is also a time to focus on making sure that the history of the people of the African Diaspora is not lost in the “white-washing” that can happen when some groups tell the story of history, leaving out other groups.

To some the very notion of Black History Month is controversial. Some very prominent people, such as the esteemed African-American actor Morgan Freeman, argue against having a Black History Month. “You’re going to relegate my history to a month?” Freeman asked. He has a point. Black History cannot be meaningfully limited to one month a year, nor can it be separated from American history, our Canadian history, or World history. Black History is History.

source: Amnesty International

For much too long, history has been taught only from the perspective of the dominant groups in society. In Canada that has meant that history was taught only as the story of men. Of whites, (mainly English and Scottish). Of the rich. Of the powerful.

We have taken great strides in identifying that such history is not only overwhelmingly incomplete, it is also profoundly unjust. Yet we still have much to do. Moreover, not only is that journey incomplete, in many places it is going the wrong way. The most obvious examples of this come from the United States, where a radical agenda of curriculum revision and book banning, all in the name of “patriotic education,” is in fact a naked attempt at denying the racist history of that nation, and the ways that racism is still alive in the institutions of today.

This suggests that Black History Month is still very relevant indeed.

On a person’s birthday we take the day to celebrate that person in a special way. Yet that does not mean we ignore them the other 364 days of the year. Let’s commit considering how that approach may apply to Black History Month.

Find out more:

Black History Month: BC

February is Black History Month. Learn more about the history of British Columbia and the contributions of Black Canadians to our province. Visit the BC Black History Awareness Society to find out more!

source: BC Black History Awareness Society

Hope Meets Action: Visit the Royal BC Museum to check out this exhibition from the BC Black History Awareness Society.

source: BC Black History Awareness Society

Find out more about how the BCBHAS is celebrating Black History Month, and learn more about the work they do throughout the year to educate all British Columbians.

Black Strathcona

Check out this amazing site:

Subtitled “One Community, Six Decades, 10 Stories,” this interactive site invites you on a virtual tour of this neighbourhood that was a hub for Black people in Vancouver through most of the 20th Century. You can also visit the area and do an interactive walking tour.

Stratchona 1935
(source: Black Strathcona)

February is Black History Month. Join us in your School Library, in person, or online, and we celebrate and learn more about Black Canadians and other people of the African Diaspora. Remember, Black History is Canadian History. It is for all Canadians.