Celebrating Contributions of Black Pioneers During Black History Awareness Month
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During the month of February Canadians are invited to recognize and participate in Black History Month. Black History Month is a time to celebrate and learn about the contributions Black Canadians have made to Canada’s history and culture. Throughout February, this celebration provides a chance to learn about African cultures in our community and beyond.
Here in Greater Victoria the Black History Awareness Society (BCBHAS) promotes the achievements of Black people year round. The BCBHAS promotes awareness of the history of Blacks in B.C., and highlights the many contributions of persons of African ancestry to our communities in the arts, education, government, sports, sciences and other fields.
A non-profit Society first formed in February 1994, the BCBHAS is a long time CPN member. This February, the BCHAS invites community members to visit an exciting new online educational exhibit highlighting the contributions of Black community members.
Black History Online Exhibit Launched
On December 17, 2020 the BCBHAS officially launched its online exhibit entitled British Columbia’s Black Pioneers: Their Industry and Character Influenced the Vision of Canada. This engaging bi-lingual exhibit explores the history of Black people in BC, and their influence on the province’s history and development. This online Community Stories project was developed with funding provided by the Digital Museums Canada (DMC) investment program.
The exhibit outlines the journey of Black pioneers who settled in British Columbia in 1858 after leaving the United States. Leaving behind an increasingly racist and divisive America, approximately 800 educated and skilled Black men and women travelled to the colony of British Columbia at the invitation of Governor Sir James Douglas. Viewers of the exhibit discover stories of achievements of the original Black settlers who helped lay the foundation of a newly colonized Vancouver Island while also contributing to Canada’s development and diversity.
These unique stories tell of Black settlers who established a new life in BC, while at the same time, challenging the racism and discrimination that awaited them. In spite of these challenges, these early Black pioneers helped to shape the social, cultural, and political landscape of that period. The President of BCBHAS Silvia Mangue commented on the value of the exhibit as “a great example from which to learn more about the great contributions of Black Pioneers in our communities. This is an opportunity for younger and older generations to reflect and admire these pioneers who, despite their emotional and societal adversities, were able to prosper and raise their families here in Canada, always looking ahead”.
With this exhibit, the BCBHAS aims to foster a greater understanding and appreciation for the historical contributions made by Black people to our island and province. This exhibit is part of several initiatives undertaken by the BCBHAS to recognize and celebrate the achievements of Black people in BC.
Exhibit Link: British Columbia’s Black Pioneers
More information about the BCBHAS: bcblackhistory.ca