|Key figures in Black history in Canada||| Print ||
|Written by Emma Brown and Kelly Schweitzer|
|Friday, 27 January 2012 15:20|
With the approach of February’s Black History Month, identified are some prominent historical figures that have changed the cultural landscape of Canada and are sources of reverence and pride, not only for the black community, but Canada as a whole.
Tubman was born in Dorchester County, Maryland. After freeing herself from slavery, she worked tirelessly to help hundreds of others find their freedom in Canada. As the Underground Railroad’s best known ‘conductor,’ Tubman once proudly boasted to fellow abolitionist Fredrick Douglass, that in 19 trips she “never lost a single passenger.”
Honourable Ellen Fairclough
January 19, 1962 – As Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Fairclough introduced a new immigration act that reformed Canada’s immigration policy to aid in the elimination of racial discrimination.
Pierre Elliot Trudeau
As Prime Minister, Trudeau introduced Canada’s Multicultural Policy in 1971. The policy was in reaction to the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, which reinforced the idea of a ‘bicultural Canada,’ which did not recognize other ethnic groups. With this policy, Trudeau asserted that Canada was, in fact, a multicultural country.
September 1985 – Alexander gets sworn in as Ontario’s lieutenant-governor, making him the first Black person to hold this position. In this role, he became a leader in the province’s multicultural movement. He was also the first Black MP and federal cabinet minister.
August 6, 1995 June 24, 1996 – Track and field athlete Donovan Bailey earned the title of the “World’s Fastest Human” after winning the 100-metre sprint at the World Track Championships in Sweden.
September 27, 2005 – As the 27th governor general, Jean was the first black person to assume that role. Jean’s recognized for her prominent journalistic work and for her anchor position at Radio-Canada television and CBC Newsworld.
Hill was born and raised in Don Mills, Ont. He is an award-winning memoirist and novelist whose work explores themes of race and racism. His 2001 autobiography Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada describes his experience growing up in the predominantly white Toronto suburb, and his most celebrated novel, 2007’s The Book of Negroes chronicles the life of a young slave girl from her abduction in Africa, through to old age.
Photos 1, 3, 5, 6 courtesy of Wikimedia Commons