What is Black History Month?

Black History Month is celebrated every February to honor, recognize, celebrate, and discuss the legacies of Black people in Canada and around the world.

The month was created in February 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, known as the "father of Black history." Woodson’s aim was to encourage people of all ethnic and social backgrounds to discuss the Black experience. February was chosen by Woodson as it coincides with the birthdates of both former US President Abraham Lincoln and social reformer Frederick Douglass. Both men played a significant role in helping to end slavery.

By the late 1960s, thanks to the civil-rights movement and a growing awareness of Black identity, Black History Week was celebrated by mayors in cities across the country. Eventually, the event eventually evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses.

Timeline of Black History Month in Canada

1978 – The Ontario Black History Society (OBHS) was established. It’s founders, Dr. Daniel G. Hill, and Wilson O. Brooks, presented a petition to the City of Toronto to have February formally proclaimed as Black History Month.

1979 – The first-ever proclamation was issued to have February as Black History Month in Toronto.

1988 – First ever Black History month was celebrated in Nova Scotia.

1993 – OBHS submitted a successful petition in Ontario to proclaim February as Black History Month. Later this petition evolved into having Black History Month recognized across Canada. Consequently, Honourable Jean Augustine, the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament.

1995 – Introduced by Dr. Jean Augustine, a motion recognize Black History Month across Canada  was unanimously approved by the House of Commons.

1996 – Nova Scotia renamed Black History Month to African Heritage Month.

2008 - Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black man appointed to the Senate, introduced the Motion to Recognize Contributions of Black Canadians and February as Black History Month. It was unanimously approved and adopted immediately.

Why is Black History Month important?

It an important time to understand, discuss and share about the struggles, achievements, and contributions of Black People in Canada. It is a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.

Resources to learn more about Black History Month

What is the Canadian theme for Black History Month?

The Theme for Black History Month in Canada is February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day.