Black History Month recognizes the important contribution of Black Canadians, the diversity of the Black community, and its importance to our history. Also known as African Heritage Month, it is a time to celebrate Black culture and to honour Black ancestors and leaders.
“With what is going on in the world right now, it is very important that we take the opportunity to honour the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Canadians in every area of endeavour throughout our history,” says Michele Alexander, chair of CUPE BC’s Workers of Colour committee.
The committee has produced a Black History Month poster that will be sent to all CUPE locals and linked from the committee’s web page. CUPE National has also posted a 2021 bookmark and poster at cupe.ca, where members are invited to take the Black History Month Quiz.
Recognizing and celebrating Black history is one way to help counter systemic racism, discrimination, and stereotypes that exist in our society. It is a time to reflect and educate ourselves on the history of Black enslavement and ongoing discrimination and bigotry against and criminalization of people of African descent.
In 1995, the House of Commons unanimously passed a motion to recognize February as Black History Month following a motion introduced by Jean Augustine, the first Black woman elected to Parliament. The first Black woman elected to a provincial legislature in Canada was BCNDP MLA Rosemary Brown, elected in 1972. Brown was featured on the 2020 Black History Month bookmark produced by CUPE National.