The theme for 2022’s Black History Month is February and Forever. When I first read it, I interpreted it to have two meanings. The first, as to never forget the past and how injustices were overcome. The second, as a history in motion and the continuity of history in the making. Though my skin colour does not identify me as a person of colour or minority, I still feel compelled to write something that provides support and shows interest in other people’s culture, identity and history regardless of appearance, belief system or language. 

In a predominantly rural white community in South Western Ontario, you would not think there’d be much Black history, but you’d be wrong. Nestled away in the small town of Dresden, there exists a place synonymous with freedom and establishing a new life. This place is Uncle Tom’s Cabin and it’s one of the last stops on the Underground Railroad. In its hay-day it was a place of refuge and new beginnings of former slaves, but today it is a place to learn about the history behind its existence and the life of Josiah Henson (Harriet Beecher Stowe’s inspiration for Uncle Tom’s Cabin). Not too far from there, the North Buxton Homecoming is held annually every Labour Day weekend to celebrate the community’s history and come together as a family. This will be its 99th year, so it would be interesting to see what will be in store for its centennial.

With the majority of the Canadian population living so close to the American border, the majority of our knowledge of Black people comes through American media. It doesn’t take much effort to think of inspiring Black Americans from history (Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks) to music (Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, Prince) to television and movies (Oprah Winfrey, Dave Chappelle, Denzel Washington), but none are Canadian. The lack of representation and recognition of Canadians, especially those who identify as visible minorities has slowly gained traction in mainstream media with the likes of The Weeknd, Drake, P.K. Subban and Winnie Harlow.  I learned of Viola Desmond’s story when I visited Halifax and was impressed with the involvement of our local brewery to dedicate a beer to MLB player Fergie Jenkins. The rise of social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram has been a catalyst and receptive stage to give Black Canadians exposure and share their history and culture through art , literature, and music.

Though I believe much of what I know about the black community has been through contemporary media and a few history classes in elementary school on slavery, I feel there isn’t much else known beyond that for a wide number of Canadians who identify as white, in addition to many newcomers. For so long, it was seen that white history was Canadian history, which simply isn’t true. This country is so rich in culture and diversity that all history should be unbiased, equally known and acknowledged. We need to be aware of these histories in order to combat social injustices such as environmental racism,  income inequality and unequal opportunities that still exist today.

For however much or little you may know on Black history, there is always more to discover. 

A great way to become aware of Black history is to seek out various sources. Below I’ve included suggestions on how to celebrate and participate in Black History Month.

Explore your town, city, county for Black history. There’s a lot of history around you, so explore!

For example, in Halifax, Black Canadian history is dotted throughout the city, not to mention the province. There is even a ferry that travels between Dartmouth and Halifax named after Viola Desmond who is also the first black woman to appear on Canadian currency (the ten dollar bill).

Visit and Support Your Local Library Check out your local library to find books and other media on display highlighting and celebrating Black History Month, recounting stories of inspirational Black, Afro- and Caribbean- Canadians. Some libraries also create events or activities to entice a greater community involvement. 

Go Virtual Many museum and historical websites have created virtual tours and exhibitions. Some may also be open to visit in person. You can find links at the end of the article.

Get Cooking or Get Takeout If you’re like me, I like to feed my mind through fuelling my body and what better way to learn about a community and its culture than through food. Discover the history around certain dishes, the reasons behind the ingredients used or the way it is prepared.  Not in the mood to cook? Support a local eatery and let the main dish be the conversation starter.

Attend an Event Many historical societies and municipalities have organized events and ceremonies to commemorate the theme of February and Forever. 

Watch a Movie Browse your streaming service provider for Black history themed movies. Bummed bandwidth or no internet connection? Check your public library for movie titles on DVD. Here’s a link to get you started.


British Columbia:

BC Black History Awareness Society

Royal B.C. Museum

South Western Ontario:

Chatham-Kent Underground Railroad

Amherstburg Freedom Museum

The John Freeman Walls Historic Site & Underground Railroad Museum

Sandwich Baptist Church

Nova Scotia:

Africville Museum

Africville: A Story of Environmental Racism

Black Loyalist 

Black Loyalist Heritage Centre

Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia

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Andrea Welling

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Helping entrepreneurs connect with valuable resources in the entrepreneurship community is one of my passions. In addition, I strongly believe in the power of mentorship to support new ventures to be able to build confidence to go to their next level. For existing businesses struggling to scale, mentorship provides another invaluable perspective and a way to broaden the entrepreneur’s skillset.

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