Toronto – February 1, 2013 – In December 1995, Jean Augustine, the first Black woman ever to be elected to the House of Commons, introduced a motion to “take note of the important contribution of black Canadians to the settlement, growth and development of Canada, the diversity of the black community in Canada and its importance to the history of this country, and recognize February as Black History Month.
The motion was passed by unanimous consent. Since then February has been an annual opportunity to recognize the past and present contributions that Black Canadians have made and continue to make to the Canadian community.
The history of Black Canadians spans four hundred years and includes slavery, abolition, homesteading, military service, the civil rights movement, and tremendous contributions to Canadian culture, education, science, urban life, the labour movement, politics and the battle for social justice.
The living history of Black Canadians is a facet of the Canadian experience that has built this country and continues to add to its spirit and potential. As such, while we celebrate BHM, we must also acknowledge that the history of Black Canadians is also a history that is too often under-acknowledged in our curriculum and in the media. It is a history of barriers and of unequal treatment that is repressively perpetuated today. We must ask ourselves - is it historical systemic discrimination that has resulted in the vast under-representation of black people in positions of influence across most sectors and organizations, including the corporate world and labour movement, in Canada?
At UFCW Canada we are proud to acknowledge and discover the history of Black Canadians and thus give respect to the past, and strength to all of us as we move in solidarity towards a future that is just and equal.