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Honoring Black History Month

Written by: Lauren Anderson

Edited by: Jacqueline Cheung


Dear CCP readers,


Welcome back to the CCP blog, and Happy Black History Month!


Although it is the last day of February, we would like to honor Black History Month and use this blog post to educate and encourage. Here at CCP, we believe it is important to recognize crucial events in Black history in Canada and how homelessness affects the Black community in our country. The 2023 theme for Black History Month is, “Ours to tell,” which promotes dialogue within the Black community and encouragement for others to learn more about Black history, success, sacrifices, and triumphs. We will highlight a bit from each area listed, but if you would like to read more information, click here for more resources.



If you would like to learn more information regarding the current state of homelessness in Canada and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), welcome! If you are returning for more information about the particular challenges faced by youth experiencing homelessness and those with animal companions, welcome back! If you are new to our blog, welcome to the community and thank you for your interest in learning more about issues regarding the homelessness crisis in Canada and beyond - you are one step closer to becoming a changemaker in your community, and you are in great company.

According to data from 2021, over 1.5 million Canadians reported being Black, accounting for 4.3 percent of Canada’s total population. During February, and all throughout the year, it is important to recognize the rich culture and history of the Black community. The CCP team is committed towards anti-racist actions and promotion of all cultures and backgrounds.


Black History in Canada


We would like to first educate on both Black history and the origins of Black History Month. Black history dates back to the early 1600s in Canada, when the first person from African heritage, Mathieu Da Costa, arrived in Canada, in 1604, with a group of French explorers. Shortly after his arrival, in 1628, Olivier LeJeune was the first enslaved African to live in Canada. It is important that we as a society recognize Black history in our country as it has been ignored over the past few centuries. It is crucial that we recognize the various contributions that Black Canadians have made to shape Canada’s heritage, culture, and identity since the early 1600s.


Here are a few notable events in Black Canadian History:

  1. Lieutenant Governor Simcoe encouraged the Canadian government in Upper Canada to pass the Anti-Slavery Act in 1793, to make it illegal to bring slaves to Upper Canada.

  2. In 1794, Black Loyalists petitioned for an All-Black settlement in Upper Canada which was denied.

  3. The Underground Railway from 1800-1865, that led to the arrival of 30,000-40,000 Black slaves who fled from the United States to go to Upper Canada.

  4. In 1829, the first large Black community was the Wilberforce settlement.

  5. In the 1830s, Thornton and Lucie Blackburn arrived in Toronto from the U.S. The Blackburns are known for their large contributions to anti-slavery activities and assistance to refugees in Canada. Mr. Blackburn started the first cab company in Toronto. Black people were accepted as volunteers into Canadian military services for WWII in 1939.

  6. Black people were accepted as volunteers into Canadian military services for WWII in 1939.

  7. The Racial Discrimination Act of 1944, was signed in Toronto, Ontario.

  8. In 1963, the first Black person was elected to the Canadian Parliament, Leonard Braithwaite.

Leonard Braithwaite

















Thornton Blackburn House Site












Origins of Black History Month in Canada

1978


The Ontario Black History Society was created. Dr. Daniel G. Hill and Wilson

O. Brooks petitioned that the City of Toronto should make February

recognized as Black History Month.


1979


Toronto issued the first proclamation in Canada to formally recognize

February as Black History Month.

1988


First Black History Month celebrated in Nova Scotia. Now referred to as

African Heritage Month.


1993


President of OBHS, Rosemary Sadlier, proposed recognizing February as

Black History Month across all of Canada to the Honourable Jean Augustine,

the first Black Canadian Woman elected to Parliament.

1995


The House of Commons recognized February as Black History Month for all

of Canada, due to the initial motion from Dr. Jean Augustine.


2008


The first Black Canadian Senator, Donald Oliver, introduced the ‘Motion to

Recognize Contributions of Black Canadians and February as Black History

Month- later approved by the Canadian Parliament. Senator Donald Oliver stated, “today, racism manifests itself in the racially unequal workforce, taking the shape of unequal income, discriminatory remarks and the glass ceiling.

in light of these challenges, Black History Month is essential to maintain

and strengthen the Black community.”


This timeline has been sourced from the Canadian government website. For more information, please click here.


This timeline shows the tremendous efforts taken to recognize the month of February as Black History Month, and how long it took for the government to officially recognize Black Canadians' contributions. We are grateful that these efforts are now recognized, and we are committed to continued education on the matter.


Homelessness in the Black Community


It is important that we acknowledge the disproportionate amount of Black people represented in the homelessness population. Many people from marginalized communities are greatly affected by homelessness. This is due to many social determinants including: racial discrimination, one's economic class, and one’s environment. There are many societal and systemic setbacks for Black people that should be recognized for the impact they have and the ability that these factors have to lead to a greater likelihood of homelessness for Black people.


Some of these structural difficulties are represented in different facets of society including our education system and prison system. For example, Black youth are three times more likely than their white classmates to be suspended or expelled from school. In the prison system, 11-15% of the Canadian inmate population are Black. These statistics represent various outcomes of the disproportionate structural barriers faced by members of the Black community in Canada, which therefore impact the likelihood of homelessness for them as well.

The inequality of our system continues to prevail, but we hope to continue ongoing conversations on this topic outside of Black History Month as well. Part of our mission at the CCP is to alleviate the state of youth homelessness in Canada. To work towards this mission, it is crucial that we acknowledge the barriers that members from marginalized communities face in this country. We hope that the history we included in this blog post can educate members of our local community and that we can collectively work towards anti-racist efforts to help close the gaps of our systems in Canada.




Thank you for reading our blog! Feel free to leave a comment with your feedback and/or insights to help us enrich the quality of future posts and cater to the interests of our community of changemakers.


- The CCP Team



Sources

  1. 1793 act to limit slavery in Upper Canada. The Canadian Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/1793-act-to-limit-slavery-in-upper-canada

  2. Canada, S. of. (n.d.). Debates - issue 34 - February 14, 2008. SenCanada. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://sencanada.ca/en/content/sen/chamber/392/debates/034db_2008-02-14-e#74

  3. Government of Canada, S. C. (2023, February 1). By the numbers: Black history month 2023. Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.statcan.gc.ca/en/dai/smr08/2023/smr08_270/infosheet?utm_source=twt&utm_medium=smo&utm_campaign=statcan-statcan-bhm-mhn-2023

  4. Heritage, C. (2023, February 1). Government of Canada. Canada.ca. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/black-history-month/about.html

  5. Heritage, C. (2023, February 1). Government of Canada. Canada.ca. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/black-history-month/historic-black-communities.html

  6. Heritage, C. (2023, February 2). Government of Canada. Canada.ca. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/black-history-month.html

  7. How has Canada's history of anti-black racism impacted today's experiences of homelessness? How Has Canada's History of Anti-Black Racism Impacted Today's Experiences of Homelessness? | The Homeless Hub. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.homelesshub.ca/blog/how-has%C2%A0canada%E2%80%99s-history-anti-black-racism-impacted-today%E2%80%99s-experiences-homelessness

  8. How has Canada's history of anti-black racism impacted today's experiences of homelessness? How Has Canada's History of Anti-Black Racism Impacted Today's Experiences of Homelessness? | The Homeless Hub. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.homelesshub.ca/blog/how-has%C2%A0canada%E2%80%99s-history-anti-black-racism-impacted-today%E2%80%99s-experiences-homelessness

  9. Racial segregation of black people in Canada. The Canadian Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/racial-segregation-of-black-people-in-canada

  10. Underground railroad. The Canadian Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/underground-railroad


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