Celebrating Black History Today and Every Day
Canada is one of the biggest homes to immigrants and people from various cultures and backgrounds. A literal melting pot; the amount of people you can meet from various backgrounds is amazing. This is displayed through the different Canadian cultures and lifestyles.
The fact that you can try out an English breakfast, have an Indian roti for lunch, try out a Jamaican patty for a snack and have Ghanaian jollof for dinner shows the vast cultures in one country. This is what Black History Month represents. Being aware of the various cultures and people around you. Immersing oneself in the culture and letting it be a part of you.
Canadian society has seen progress over the decades, but the realities of differential treatment towards African Canadians continue. Over the past year, the crises of over-policing and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Black and Indigenous communities have thrown a spotlight on how much remains to be done as a society.
The central theme highlights that when we listen to others’ perspectives, interpretation, and views on the world, particularly those from marginalized communities, we will gain a more meaningful understanding on how to make our world a better place. The 2022 theme for Black History Month is: “February and Forever: Celebrating Black History Today and Every Day,” which focuses on recognizing the daily contributions that Black Canadians make to Canada.
Black History Month was first formally recognized in Canada in 1995 when the Honorable Jean Augustine, first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament, introduced a motion that recognized February as Black History Month (BHM). It was passed unanimously in the House of Commons. BHM allows us to reflect on why it is important to learn about Canada’s first Black Cabinet Minister, Commander-in-Chief, about the Coloured Hockey League, the No. 2 Construction Battalion, the Black train porters all named “George”; stories that have rarely been taught in Canadian classrooms.
Canada has its own rich history when it comes to significant black people. When people do not have an opportunity to explore histories, voices, and identities different from their own, they are unable to develop awareness about the diverse world in which they exist. This is when people formulate misconceptions, biases and stereotypes about groups of people, which in turn manifests into racist behavior.
The Government of Canada’s theme for BHM 2020 is inspired by the UN International Decade for People of African Descent: “Canadians of African Descent: Going forward, guided by the past”