Black History Month

This February, we celebrate the culture, heritage and traditions of black Canadians while paying homage to the contributions they have made to civil rights and the development of Canada as a whole.

Viola Desmond

Viola Desmond

Viola Desmond was a Nova Scotia Business woman who, in 1946, was involved in an incident that would aid the change of segregation laws in Nova Scotia. On November 8th 1946, Desmond was driving through New Glasgow, Nova Scotia when her car broke down. While her car was being repaired,…

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Elijah McCoy

Elijah McCoy

Born in Colchester, Ontario to self-freed parents from Kentucky, Elijah McCoy received his higher education as a mechanical engineer in Scotland. After his training, he chose to live in Detroit, Michigan where he became concerned about the injuries and deaths caused when workers attempted to lubricate moving machinery. Many of…

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Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman is arguably the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad “conductors”. Over a 10 year period, Tubman made 19 trips into the South and brought over 300 slaves to Freedom. As she once pointed out to Frederick Douglass – in all of her journeys, she “never lost a…

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Marcus Mosiah Garvey

Marcus Mosiah Garvey

Marcus Mosiah Garvey, one of the greatest leaders African people have produced, was born August 17, 1887 in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, and spent his entire life in the service of his people–African people. He was bold; he was uncompromising and he was one of the most powerful orators on…

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Mary Ann Shadd

Mary Ann Shadd

Mary Ann Shadd, who was an educator, abolitionist, author, publisher and journalist, was born in Wilmington, Delaware – 1823. The eldest of 13 children, she was educated by Quakers throughout the North Eastern States. Shadd followed in the footsteps of her activist parents who were part of the Underground Railroad….

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Michael Luther King Jr.

Michael Luther King Jr.

Michael Luther King Jr., now widely known as Martin Luther King Jr., was born January 15, 1929. His grandfather and father were pastors at Ebenezer Baptist Church. MLK continued the legacy serving as a co-pastor at the church from 1960 until his death in 1968. King attended segregated public schools…

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Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born in February of 1818 on Maryland’s eastern shore. He was raised by his grandparents and aunt, only seeing his mother five times before her death. During this time, he was exposed to the degradations of slavery witnessing first hand brutal whippings and spending most…

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Chloe Cooley

Chloe Cooley

In 1793, enslaved black woman Chloe Cooley was bound and put into a boat to be transported and sold in the States. Peter Martin, a free black man, noticed her struggle and brought the matter and a witness to Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe. Simcoe, who supported the abolition of…

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Malcolm Little

Malcolm Little

Malcolm Little was born May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, and grew up in the mid-west. His parents, Earl and Louise, were political activists who supported the militant black- nationalist movement of Marcus Garvey. Earl Little was murdered when Malcolm was a young child and his mother, Louise, was institutionalized…

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William Hall

William Hall

William Hall was the first Black person, the first Nova Scotian and third Canadian to be awarded the Victoria Cross. Born in Horton Nova Scotia in 1827, Hall was one of seven children. His parents, Jacob and Lucy Hall, were former slaves brought to freedom by the British Royal Navy…

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Calvin Ruck

Calvin Ruck

Calvin Ruck, an advocate for black rights, was born in Nova Scotia to immigrants from Barbados. Between 1945 – 1958, Ruck was employed with the Canadian National Railways as a porter. The direction of Ruck’s life changed when he and his family set their sights on a home in a…

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Henry Bibb

Henry Bibb

Henry Bibb, black rights advocate and activist, was born into slavery in Kentucky in 1815. While a slave, Bibb was owned by three different men. He attempted to escape several times before he was successful. In 1848, Bibb escaped to Detroit leaving his wife and daughter behind. There he began…

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John Ware

John Ware

Canada Post is issuing new stamps to mark Black History Month, including one that honours a former American slave who became a pioneer of Alberta’s ranching industry. Born into slavery in South Carolina, John Ware travelled to Texas after the U.S. Civil War to become a cowhand. In 1882 he…

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Zanana L. Akande

Zanana L. Akande

Zanana L. Akande was the first black woman elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and the first black woman to serve as a cabinet minister in Canada. Zanana L. Akande was born in Toronto in the Kennsington Market district. Her parents came from St. Lucia and Barbados, where they…

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Josiah Henson

Josiah Henson

Josiah Henson (June 15, 1789 – May 5, 1883) was an author, abolitionist, and minister. Born into slavery in Charles County, Maryland, he escaped to Ontario, Canada in 1830, and founded a settlement and laborer’s school for other fugitive slaves at Dawn, near Dresden in Kent County. At the time…

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Leonard Braithwaite (L.B)

Leonard Braithwaite (L.B)

Leonard Braithwaite (L.B) was raised in the Kensington Market area of Toronto during the depression and served in the RCAF in WW2. After the war, he attended the University of Toronto and earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He then attended the Harvard school of business, where he earned a…

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Rosemary Brown

Rosemary Brown

Rosemary Brown, who was a politician and feminist, was the first black woman in Canadian history to become member of the Canadian parliamentary body. Rosemary served in the B.C legislature until 1986, when she became a professor in women studies at Simon Fraser University. A determined feminist, Ms. Brown worked…

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Grace Lorch

Grace Lorch

Grace Lorch, who was a Boston teacher, President of the Boston Teacher’s Union and member of the Boston Central Labour Council, was best known for her work as a civil rights activist in the 50’s. Lorch was a white escort to the Little Rock Nine (the first nine black students…

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