By Julie Diamond, OCT
The Honourable Jean Augustine introduced a motion to make February, Black History Month in Canada in 1996. Many Black Canadians, including Augustine, have played a crucial part in shaping our country’s history while facing discrimination and racism. This month, take the time with your child to celebrate Black Canadians’ contributions and reflect on the long history of systemic racism in Canada, which is often overshadowed by American history. Not sure where to start? Here are some resources to help you get started (but by no means is this a complete list):
1. Start with a story about a woman forced into slavery, Marie-Joseph Angelique, who may or may not have set Montreal on fire in 1734. The Canadiana video is here.
2. In the early 1900s, many Black families in the mid-western U.S. wanted a new start in Canada’s western provinces. However, the Canadian government began a campaign of spreading misinformation that will serve as a good example to teach your child about how to read the media today. Here’s the Historica Canada video.
3. "To be black and female in a society which is both racist and sexist is to be in the unique position of having nowhere to go but up.” Rosemary Brown
Brown was the first Black female member of a provincial legislature in Canada. Black women have encountered discrimination in Canada throughout history and today. Click here to learn about a few of the many courageous black women in Canada who fought for equality and refused to settle for less.
4. Check out the CBC podcast The Secret Life of Canada which I highly recommend. They talk about secret things about our country that you don’t know. I learn something new every episode. This episode ‘The province of Jamaica’ talks about the early history of Caribbean migration to Canada and how Jamaica and Barbados almost became provinces of Canada. A must listen!
5. Check out Unilearnal here to watch 28 Moments of Black Canadian History where they feature a Black Canadian youth every day of February for Black History Month. The speakers talk about their experiences in Canadian society as a Black person, their passions, what they would like to change, etc. They also give a history lesson of an historical figure or moment in Black Canadian History. This YouTube page is trying to flip the script on Canadian education which has been heavily based on African American History.
6. Expand your family’s library to include Black authors. Check out our tutor, Angeline, on Instagram here for her recommendations and read alouds from a diverse range of authors. She also provides a Google document with links to the books she features to make it easy for you to find and purchase them online.
How are you commemorating Black History Month? Share with us any videos, podcasts, books or other resources you'd like to share.
Julie Diamond is a certified teacher in Canada and the founder of Teachers to Go.
Julie Diamond speaking at the OISE conference for Alternative, Innovative and Inspiring Career Paths for Teachers at the University of Toronto.
Jenna Srigley is the administrative assistant at Teachers to Go and offers invaluable insight as a mom of 2 teens.