What is Black History Month?
Since 1995, February has been acknowledged as Black History Month, where we take time to celebrate those who have contributed greatly to making Canada a culturally diverse, compassionate, and prosperous nation!
When was the first Black History Month?
Since the early 1600s, and potentially earlier, Black peoples have been shaping both Canada’s heritage and identity. However, Black history has not always been nationally or internationally recognized.
In 1978, Canada took the first of many major steps in acknowledging our past by creating the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS), founded by Dr. Daniel G. Hill and Wilson O. Brooks. The aim of the society was and still is to encourage public interest in Black History through the ‘recognition and documentation of the contributions of peoples of African descent and their collective histories, past and present, through education, research and collaboration; development and support of educational initiatives and exhibits; and the inclusion of Black History material in school curricula.’
Based on their goals, the organization’s first mode of action upon establishment was to have February formally proclaimed as Black History Month. The first-ever Canadian proclamation was issued by Toronto in 1979.
14 years later in 1993, the OBHS successfully filed a petition in Ontario that would proclaim February as Black History Month. In 1995, February was officially recognized as Black History Month following a motion introduced by the Honourable Jean Augustine, the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament.
Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black man appointed to the Senate, introduced the Motion to Recognize Contributions of Black Canadians and February as Black History Month in February of 2008, and after its adoption on March 4, 2008, Canada’s parliamentary position on Black History Month was completed.
How does British Columbia acknowledge Black History Month?
In the 1970s, a group of individuals with a desire to bring together those who had an interest in British Columbia’s Black History established the Victoria Black Peoples Society (VBPS), which also focused on giving those looking for a community in which they could develop and nurture an interest in Black History a place to go.
In 1993, the British Columbia Black History Awareness Society was created after a number of individuals from the community came together to address a request from the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, British Columbia to plan, organize, and co-host a number of events to celebrate Black History Month in February 1994.
You can view local British Columbia events and resources here.
How does Nanaimo acknowledge Black History Month?
In Nanaimo, the Nanaimo African Heritage Society (NAHS) offers a wonderful sense of community for all interested in Black History Month. Since 1999, the NAHS has been meeting to discuss and celebrate the achievements of Afro-Centric people in British Columbia. The Society was officially incorporated under the Society Act in 2005 and continues to provide a place for members of the community to learn about African heritage and culture, traditions of African heritage, and cultural and recreational venues for positive interactions.
Along with the yearly celebration of Black History Month, the NAHS also holds a Black History Gala, which celebrates the People of African Descent and Afro-Centrism through Arts and Culture.To learn more, please visit: http://nanaimoafricanheritagesociety.com/?page_id=3478&v=4326ce96e26c
How does Aspengrove School acknowledge and celebrate Black History Month?
Aspengrove School staff have been taking time over the past few months to plan and implement some activities for classroom advisory blocks throughout February.
To honour Black History Month AGS has planned several activities. Firstly, a group of grade 11 students have prepared a presentation that includes a brief history of Black History Month in Canada and profiles of influential black Canadians and Americans. There will be three profiles shared each week throughout the month, and they will be discussed during daily homeroom advisories. Thank you to Edward, David, Nathan, and Mateo, for creating this informative and thoughtful collection.
On February 9th, MYP/DP students will be participating in a Black History Month activity based on a TEDTalk by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called “The Dangers of the Single Story.” Students will be watching the video and reflecting on their own ‘single stories’ and exploring ways to be more inclusive every day.
Finally, on February 23rd, MYP/DP students will be participating in another activity. This one will be an in-depth look at biographies of influential African Canadians. Students will be researching and sharing their learning about the positive impact that African Canadians have and continue to have in Canada.
Alongside classroom activities, the Library will be featuring books on Black History and authors to help students continue the conversation. Ms. McDaid also encourages students to visit SORA and Encyclopedia Britannica, which offer a number of fantastic resources.
As a school, we strive to celebrate diversity and continue to learn about how we can support our staff and students in every way possible. We’d like to thank our dedicated staff for their hard work in helping our community progress and find useful resources in which we can use to help further our knowledge on universal topics.
For more resources and information on Black History Month, click here.
For events based locally, click here.
Government of Canada: Black History Month
British Columbia Black History Awareness Society
Nanaimo African Heritage Society