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Black History Month




During Black History Month, we celebrate the many amazing accomplishments of Black Canadians and their communities who, throughout our history, have greatly contributed to Canada's culturally diverse landscape.


"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."

source: canada.ca




Black History month is also a time to take a hard and honest look at the dark history of systemic racism and the importance of learning about and reflecting upon these truths. Although Canada takes great pride in its underground railroad used by slaves fleeing the United States, many are not aware of the fact that African people were regular enslaved in the territories that now make up Canada before the days of Confederation in 1867.


"Upper Canada passed an Act in 1793 intended to gradually end the practice of slavery. The law made it illegal to bring enslaved people into Upper Canada and declared that children born to enslaved people would be freed once they reached 25 years of age. It did not free any enslaved people directly, but any enslaved person who arrived in Upper Canada would be considered free.
A similar act failed to pass in Lower Canada (now Quebec) thanks to pressure from influential slave owners – including elected representatives – who blocked it. But even in the absence of outright prohibition, the legal status of slavery was weakening. Throughout the early 1800s, courts in various colonial jurisdictions (notably Lower Canada and Nova Scotia) ruled against slave owners and freed formerly enslaved people."





Black History month exists for many reasons, but perhaps most importantly, every February aims to help us all push towards an understanding that systemic racism still very much exists today, both socially and institutionally. It also reminds us of the importance of not only celebrating the positive moments of Canada's Black history, but implores us to practice anti-racism.


We are all both individually and collectively responsible for understanding privilege, or the lack thereof, as well as the parts of Canadian history that have systematically generated a lack of social balance in today's society. We must actively incorporate anti-racism into advocacy to ensure that as we work to elevate our most vulnerable populations, we simultaneously strive to eliminate systemic racism and the many resulting inequities.


It is human nature to see differences before we see that which is the same, but when given the chance to truly see, what was always right in front of us becomes an emancipating vision of truth. We all need to shine a light upon that which makes us feel uncomfortable, odd, hurt, or even angry, so that we can see inside ourselves and begin to understand. The result will be the inspiration to learn more, to experience more, to understand and to see. By extension, the reflection of our internal selves can be seen in almost any human soul. We are all mirrors, all reflections of one another. This is an undeniable truth.


Resource List


Below is a list of compiled resources for learning more about Black History month, allyship, anti-racism and more.


Black History


28 Days of Black History (sign up to receive daily newsletter for February)



Guides on Allyship



Articles


Books

Videos











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