Premier David Eby; Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives; and Rachna Singh, Minister of Education and Child Care, have released the following statement in celebration of Black History Month:
“February is Black History Month, a time to recognize and honour the contributions of Black Canadians.
“Black people have been an integral part of British Columbia for more than 150 years and their contributions have helped shape this province. For example, Emma Stark became the first Black school teacher on Vancouver Island when she was hired to teach in a one-room school in Nanaimo in 1874. Burnaby’s Barbara Howard was the first Black woman to represent Canada in an international competition, participating in track and field in the 1938 British Empire Games in Australia. Seraphim Joseph Fortes is heralded as Vancouver’s Citizen of the Century for saving at least 29 people from drowning and teaching three generations of children to swim while working as a lifeguard in English Bay during the early 1900s.
“It’s stories like these that inspire us to learn more about the history of our province and inspire all of us to challenge the status quo and work together to build a more just and equitable society.
“At the same time, we can’t ignore the unjust barriers that Black people continue to face in their daily lives. The Province is working to build a more inclusive province for everyone by identifying systemic racism through the Anti-Racism Data Act. We’re also committed to developing an anti-Black racism strategy in partnership with Black communities in recognition of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent.
“To help teachers incorporate more content about Black history and anti-racism into their classrooms, our government has worked with a variety of community groups and education partners to produce a summary of resources that improve the representation of racialized communities and promote a more comprehensive understanding of anti-racism, human rights, and diverse cultural experiences, histories and contributions.
“Please join us in commemorating this month by learning more about the history of Black British Columbians and the many contributions they have made and continue to make. By learning more about the communities that shape our province, we can build a better future for everyone.”