Black History Month

February is Black History Month in Canada. Black History Month is a time to honour black Canadians and reflect on the history, achievements and contributions of black people in Canada.

Black history is an important part of our heritage in Alberta and in Canada. Despite a history of oppression, enslavement, racism and discrimination, black Canadians have transcended great adversity to achieve many accomplishments that have contributed to the richness of our province and country. Recognizing our past, including the many hardships, trials and sufferings of our ancestors, as well as the numerous successes, victories and triumphs, is important to understanding our rich history and how it has influenced our contemporary culture.

Prior to the American Civil War, enslaved Africans used the Underground Railroad-a secret network of routes and safe houses-to escape slavery and reach free states, as well as Canada. Following the Civil War, black people in the south experienced renewed racial oppression and were urged to once again leave the south. They called themselves "Exodusters," many of whom settled in farming communities in Alberta, including in the communities of Keystone (now Breton) and Amber Valley. For more information on the history of black people in Canada, visit the Historica Canada - Black History Canada website.

Today, Alberta's black community is comprised of a multitude of histories and the heritages of many nations, which all add to the cultural mosaic of our province and country. Black History Month provides an opportunity for people of all cultures to gain insight into the experiences of black Canadians and Albertans, and the vital role they have played throughout our shared history and continue to play today. It is also an opportunity to examine the issues that black people continue to face in our communities and take steps to put an end to racism and discrimination and create welcoming and inclusive environments for all.

Throughout the month of February, we honour the history of black people and celebrate the many achievements and contributions of black Canadians, which have added to the culturally diverse and prosperous Canada of today. Visit the Canadian Heritage website to learn more about Black History Month.

To commemorate this important month, Albertans are encouraged to participate in local community events throughout the province. For more information on events taking place in Edmonton, visit the National Black Coalition of Canada Society - Edmonton Chapter website.