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Black History Month: Guided by the past
[Image is from the Government of Canada's Black History month poster: Feet forward, head turned backward, the Sankofa bird reflects on the past to build a successful future.]
February is Black History Month, and the Alliance will be looking back, ahead and celebrating Black Canadians' resilience and survival through slavery, colonization and racism while creating strong, vibrant communities. This week, our focus is on Black populations' histories in Canada, and the history of oppression and slavery, and its continued impacts on Black people and communities today.
The Government of Canada's website has a Black History month page that brings together profiles of Black Canadians, organizations and education resources, as well as some information on the history of Black communities in Canada. The Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia also collects resources and histories of migration on its page, while the Ontario Black History Society collects stories that explore Black lives and stories in Canada's most populous province. The Ontario Nurses Association has a look at the contributions that Black nurses have made historically in Canada and beyond, and this is a profile of the first Black doctor in Canada. The first Black woman to become a doctor in Canada has multi-faceted story that includes being feminist leader during the voting rights movement. This is a collection of in-depth profiles of Black Canadians across many spheres of life, from the first Black lawyer in Canada to a fulsome CBC biography of Canada's first Black Governor-General, Michaëlle Jean, and others across politics, academics and journalism.
We also want to point back at a keynote on the history of slavery in Canada given by Dr. Charmaine Nelson at the Alliance's annual conference back in 2018. In her speech, Dr. Nelson, a McGill professor and historian, draws a line from the erased and ignored histories of slavery and racism in Canadian communities to the unrecognized and unconfronted racism in Canada's communities and institutions today. We also encourage you to check out the Black Canadian Studies website where Dr. Nelson presents her research and other resources dedicated to examining the history and experiences of Black communities in Canada. To learn more about the history of slavery in Canada, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights has a multimedia article that delves back over 300 years into the roots of European colonial slave trade, and this CBC Radio Ideas show from 2018 talks in depth about how Canada has tried to erase and whitewash its history of slavery.