B.C. marks Black History Month

February 5, 2021

By Vancouver Sun |

Black History Month celebrates the achievements and contributions of citizens of African ancestry to the rich, diverse and pluralistic culture of British Columbia we now share. But with the plays, music, literary evenings, church services and panel discussions comes a sobering reminder of where we have come from — and how far we’ve yet to go.

Black men and women have been part of B.C.’s fabric since its inception. They came before Canada existed; helped frame both the creation of the province and its entry into Confederation; helped build the economy and the cultural, social and political landscape, as energetic, civic-minded citizens.

They came not as supplicants fleeing slavery in the United States, but as self-determined individuals who chose to make a life here. Black volunteers provided the province with its first militia at a time when American expansionism was feared. They provided the first formal policing at a time when the capital had been transformed from sleepy outpost to raucous mining camp. They helped create local governments to bring civility and the rule of law to a boisterous culture of saloons and spittoons. They built churches.

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