February is Black History Month in Canada. It is a time to honour and celebrate the diversity, history, future, and culture of Black people in Canada. During this month, we recognize the past and present contributions that Black Canadians have made to our country.
Here at The Erb Group, we are dedicated to learning and celebrating this important month. With this, we want to share a little bit about Black History Month’s origins, resources to learn more and ways to honour and celebrate Black History Month yourself.
Black History in Canada
Black Canadians and their communities have been a part of shaping Canada’s heritage and identity since the arrival of Mathieu Da Costa, a navigator, and interpreter, whose presence in Canada dates back to the early 1600s.
The role of Black people and their communities in Canada has largely been ignored as a key part of Canada’s history. There is little mention that some of the Loyalists who came here after the American Revolution and settled in the Maritimes were people of African descent, nor the fact that many soldiers of African descent made many sacrifices in wartime as far back as the War of 1812.
Few people in Canada are aware that African people were once enslaved in the territory now known as Canada or of how those who fought enslavement helped lay the foundation of Canada’s diverse and inclusive society.
Black History Month is a time to learn more about these Canadian stories and the many other vital contributions that Black Canadians and their communities have made to this country’s history and continued growth.
Committing to learning more and honouring Black history and the contributions Black communities have made is only part of what one can do to support this month. To find great educational resources and learn more, please check out this link.
Origins of Black History Month in Canada
In 1978, the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS) was established. Its founders, including Dr. Daniel G. Hill and Wilson O. Brooks, presented a petition to the City of Toronto to have February formally proclaimed as Black History Month. In 1979, the first-ever Canadian proclamation was issued by Toronto.
In December 1995, the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month in Canada following a motion introduced by Dr. Augustine, the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament. The House of Commons carried the motion unanimously.
Celebrating and Honouring Black History Month Today
During Black History Month, people in Canada celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Black Canadians and their communities who, throughout history, have done so much to make Canada a culturally diverse, compassionate, and prosperous place. February is a time to celebrate and honour resilience, innovation and determination. It is a time to learn, listen and celebrate.
Not sure how you can celebrate and honour Black History Month?
Here are five suggestions to get you started:
- Read a Book – Goodreads
- Listen to a Podcast – I Am Black History – Our Stories, Our Voices
- Shop Black-Owned Businesses – Black-Owned Marketplace Canada
- Watch a Documentary – Black Communities in Canada: A Rich History
- Attend a Black History Month Event – Eventbrite