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Black History Month | Origins

"Celebrating the History of Black Communities Today and Every Day" is the theme for Black History Month for the year 2022. This is a theme we particularly appreciate, as it states that Black communities should have always had their place among others.

What does Black History Month mean?

It is an annual commemoration of the history of the African diaspora that was first celebrated in the United States in 1976 by U.S. President Gerald Ford. President Ford called on all Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the all-too-often overlooked achievements of black Americans in all fields throughout our history. Since then, this commemoration has been celebrated every year in February.

In the beginning, it served more to counter the negative stereotypes attached to the past of former slaves and their descendants, as well as to strengthen the pride of the Black community in its heritage. Now, it advocates equity and highlights history in an effort to reach the universal through the particular in order to build a more just society.

Recognition of Black History Month in Canada

A very important society, the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS), was formed in 1978. In 1993, it was the founders of OBHS, Dr. Daniel G. Hill and Wilson O. Brooks, who successfully petitioned the City of Toronto to proclaim February as Black History Month.

In December 1995, the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month in Canada.

In February 2008, Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black person appointed to the Senate, introduced the Motion to recognize the contributions of Black Canadians and the month of February as Black History Month around the world. The motion was unanimously approved and passed on March 4, 2008.

Black History in Canada

The history of Black people in Canada has not always been celebrated or highlighted. In fact, there is very little mention of them in the literature. In 1608, Mathieu Da Costa, hired as an interpreter for Samuel de Champlain, is said to be the first Black person in the territory of what would become Canada.

Since that time, despite the discrimination they have often faced, Black people and their communities have helped shape Canada's heritage and identity.

Black History Month is an opportunity to honor these tremendous contributions that black people have made to us in the past and those they continue to make today in all sectors of society.

It is a celebration of resilience, innovation and determination to work towards a more inclusive and diverse Canada:

A Canada in which everyone has the opportunity to flourish!

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