Black History Month

Posted on Monday, 28 February 2022 under Stories

Every February, communities across Canada partake in events and festivities that honour the contributions of Black Canadians and communities. This remains an important month to highlight the history and ongoing legacies of Black Canadians. As Black History Month comes to an end, we invite you to continue to learn, educate, and celebrate Black contributions and Black communities in Canada. Below we have included some learning and resources we find helpful in our continued learning of Black Communities and equity work.

Black History Month began as Blacky History Week in 1926 in the United States. Into the 1970s, the week expanded to a month and the first month-long commemoration of Black History took place in February 1970, to then be recognized by the United States government in 1976. It wasn’t until 1995 that Canada recognized and began celebrating Black History Month, following the initiative of Honourable Jean Augustine, Canada’s first black Member of Parliament. For more information on the history of Black History Month, check out BC Black History Awareness Society.

An artist talk with artist Marie-Hèlène Cauvin with curator Dominique Fontaine for her exhibition Tattooed Portraits in 2017. Photo provided by BAND Gallery and Cultural Centre.

Important Definitions

Credit for these definitions goes to BC Black History Awareness Society. For the full glossary, please visit their website.

Anti-Black Racism – Policies and practices rooted in Canadian institutions such as education, health care, and justice that mirror and reinforce beliefs, attitudes, prejudice, stereotyping and/or discrimination towards people of African descent.

Anti-Racism – An active and consistent process of change to eliminate individual, institutional and systemic racism.

Structural or Societal Racism -Structural or Societal Racism pertains to the ideologies upon which society is structured. These ideologies are inscribed through rules, policies and laws; and represent the ways in which the deep-rooted inequities of society produce differentiation, categorization, and stratification of society’s members based on race.

Colonialism – Colonialism is defined as “control by one power over a dependent area or people.” It occurs when one nation subjugates another, conquering its population and exploiting it, often while forcing its own language and cultural values upon its people. As well, The policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.

Discrimination – The denial of equal treatment and opportunity to individuals or groups because of personal characteristics and membership in specific groups, with respect to education, accommodation, health care, employment, access to services, goods, and facilities.

Ethnicity – A group that shares similar cultural affinities that could include shared origins, language or dialects, culture, or traditions.

Race – Modern scholarship views racial categories as socially constructed, that is, race is not intrinsic to human beings but rather an identity created, often by socially dominant groups, to establish meaning in a social context.

Intersectionality -The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

The opening reception of Emmanuel Osahor's exhibition, Conversations in the Garden, in October of 2021. Photo provided by BAND Gallery and Cultural Centre.

Please contact us if you have any additions to this list, we would love to continue building this.