The Province of British Columbia joins Canadians across the nation in celebrating February 2018 as Black History Month.
“Black History Month gives us the opportunity to recognize the contributions of the black community in the province,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “It is a time when each of us can reflect on the rich cultural history of our province and the role that each of us plays in nurturing an inclusive and vibrant multicultural society.”
As the most ethnically diverse province in the country, the roots of multiculturalism run deep in B.C. In February, British Columbians join Canadians across the country in celebrating the many achievements and contributions of people of African descent.
“During the month of February, we will be recognizing black community laureates,” said Silvia Mangue Alene, president, British Columbia Black History Awareness Society. “These professionals and entrepreneurs work and live in our communities and contribute to the economy of the province. These laureates are a source of pride to us in the black community.”
This year, the scope of celebrations for Black History Month has expanded to include programs on the history and contributions of black Canadians and promotion of black entrepreneurs.
“The first step to creating an inclusive environment where everyone can participate freely is by gaining an understanding about different cultures,” said Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism. “This month allows each of us to learn more about the history of the black community in B.C. and continue to enrich diversity in our province.”
This year's celebration commemorates 160 years of the first black settlers in British Columbia with the first self-identified black immigrants arriving in Esquimalt in 1858 as part of the Cariboo Gold Rush.
“Black History Month for Canada is about more than understanding the stories of the underground railroad. It also promotes awareness of the settlers who came to British Columbia in the 1800s as contributors and who helped to pioneer the very land where we now live,” said Shalema Gantt, president of the Nanaimo African Heritage Society.
- Black History Month is an annual observance in North America for remembrance of important people and events in the history of communities throughout the world that are descended from peoples from Africa.
- 43,500 people identified themselves as black in B.C. in the 2016 census, which is 0.93% of the provincial population.
Nanaimo African Heritage Society of B.C.: www.nanaimoafricanheritagesociety.com
B.C. Black History Awareness Society: http://bcblackhistory.ca/
Black History Month proclamation: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/proclamations/proclamations/BlkHstMnth2018