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Black History Month: Prominent Black Canadians
Published: Feb 8, 2021

“William Hall, the Midwives of the African Nova Scotian Communities, Black Strathcona, the Coloured Corps, Lincoln Alexander Day, the Coloured Hockey League, Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children. Many of us have never heard or read about these events, people and places. However, these stories are deeply embedded in Canadian history and identity. Black History Month is an opportunity for all of us to learn about, honour, and celebrate the contributions people of African, Black and Caribbean descent have made. Their contributions have enriched Canadian history and the global community.

We often learn about Black history through an American perspective. Many believe that slavery was an American experience; however, slavery existed in Canada. When we think of the Civil Rights movement, we envision Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Ella Baker. However, in 1946, Viola Desmond refused to give up her segregated Whites-only section at the movie theatre in New Glasgow, N.S. She was arrested and fined for her actions. Nine years later, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a White passenger. Canada also had civil rights activists who fought against segregation and other forms of racism.

Black History Month is an opportunity for us to learn about and share our Canadian heritage. It is also an opportunity for us to reflect on what it means to live in a world with diverse identities, voices and stories.”

— February 2020, from OCSB.

Spotlight on Harry Jerome

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Harry Jerome was born in September, 1940 and moved to the Vancouver area in 1951. At the age of 19, he became the first native Canadian to hold, officially, a world track record. He won the bronze medal in 1964 at the Tokyo Games when he finished the 100m dash in 10.25 seconds. At the time of this accomplishment, he was employed as a teacher at ۿ۴ý High. In his track and field career, he was in eight international competitions, representing Canada in three Olympics. He set seven world records, and was named British Columbia’s Athlete of the Century in 1971. All of these accomplishments came during a time, when it was very difficult to be Black in Canada. After his retirement from sport, Harry Jerome went on to promote amateur and youth sport through national and provincial programs. Furthermore, Harry Jerome advocated for better funding support for Canadian athletes, and for greater representation of athletes of colour in Canadian media. Throughout his life, he was the recipient of numerous honours and awards, including the Order of Canada. Harry Jerome passed away at the young age of 42, in December, 1982. —

Be sure to check the attached PDF for more information such as spotlights on notable black Canadians and local events.