Black History Month

In December 1995, the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month. The motion was introduced by the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament, the Honourable Jean Augustine. In February 2008, now retired Nova Scotia Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black man appointed to the Senate, introduced a motion to have the Senate officially declare February as Black History Month. It received unanimous approval and was adopted on March 4, 2008.

Being Black in Canada

CBC Gem – Being Black In Canada – 2020 special with various speakers and topics

  • Conversations about the ‘n’ word with 3 prominent journalists

  • Dub poet Des Mckenzie – performs part of her poem (starts 7:30)

  • Discussion with various activists of the Black Lives Matter movement (Sandy Hudson, Syrus Marcus Ware, Desmond Cole) (starts at 9:10)

  • Voices of our youth (starts at 17:10)

  • Discussion about systemic racism in institutions in Canada (starts at 18:41)

  • Discussion with director and cast of ‘The Book of Negroes’ mini-series (starts at 21:26)

The Fifth Estate Black Lives Matter: The Disruptors (45:01) secondary

Experiences Canada:  Black Lives Matter Slide Deck

Raising our Voices: Sharing Black Canadian Stories

CBC Short Docs Deeply Rooted (23:09) secondary level
Filmmaker Cazhhmere is a seventh-generation black Canadian. Despite this deep history, she’s constantly asked to explain where she’s from — even though the answer is always “Canada.” Cazhhmere is a proud Canadian. Her ancestors were among the first black settlers to come to Canada — her family has spent hundreds of years weaving itself into the fabric of our nation. Despite this deep history, Cazhhmere is constantly questioned about where she is originally from. In Deeply Rooted, Cazhhmere will change your perception of what a multi-generational Canadian family looks like. In a country that is widely known for being a “global melting pot,” our nation can easily forget that not every person of colour is a newcomer to Canada.

In Your School Library

Consult your school’s Library Catalogue to check availability of books.

Meet Viola Desmond by Elizabeth MacLeod

Meet Viola Desmond, community leader and early civil rights trailblazer! On the night of November 8th 1946, Nova Scotia businesswoman Viola Desmond stood up for her right to be in the “unofficial” whites-only section of a New Glasgow movie theatre . . . and was arrested for it. Supported by the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NSCAACP) and the black-owned newspaper The Clarion, Viola took her quest for the right to freedom from discrimination to the courts. While she ultimately did not succeed, she was a beacon to other early civil-rights activists. Her sister Wanda worked hard to promote Viola’s legacy, which has been finally honoured by Viola’s inclusion on the new Canadian $10 bill.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson shares her childhood memories and reveals the first sparks that ignited her writing career in free-verse poems about growing up in the North and South.

OverDrive eBooks

Children’s eBooks

Young Adult, Adult, Non-fiction eBooks

Virtual Library Research Resources

Using the Virtual Library:

Go to the Library Learning Commons Virtual Library – Elementary > Online Encyclopedias
Go to the Library Learning Commons Virtual Library – Secondary > Online Encyclopedias

Reference: The Canadian Encyclopedia

  • find numerous articles, links and portals related to the history, migration, settlement patterns, economic life, community and culture

How to get there:  Virtual Library  > Online Encyclopedias > The Canadian Encyclopedia

One stop information source: Canada in Context

How to get there:  Virtual Library  > Online Databases > Gale Online Resources > Select Canada in Context

  • allows you to narrow your search for materials in the following formats: Articles, Images, Magazines, Academic Journals, Primary Sources, Reference, Critical Essays, Websites and Audio
  • provides speech function that will read text aloud
  • find numerous articles and links related to Black History in Canada


Select eVideo Library in the Library Catalogue to search the entire eVideo collection, or select a specific collection (for example, Learn360) from the Virtual Library – eVideo section.

Search Terms: Try searching for titles related to Black History using a variety of search terms, such as “Black”, “Black History Month”, “Black Lives Matter”, “Black Power”, “racial justice”, “systemic racism”, “Black Studies”, “African Canadian”, “African American”, “segregation” and “integration”, “emancipation” and “civil rights”, “indentured servitude”, “Africville”, “Underground Railroad”, “slavery” and “abolition”.  Further refine your search by selecting grade levels and subject areas and related search terms such as “Canada”.

(Remember to check video descriptions for grade level, length, and publication details.)

Online Resources

Mary Ann Shadd

Black History – General Web Sites

Black History in Canada: A timeline
Black Canadian History presented as a timeline.

Black History Canada from the Historica Dominion Institute
A rich guide to online resources about the people and events.

Historica Canada’s Black History Video Playlist

Black History in Canada – Education Guide – Historica Canada
Structured around themes of journey, slavery, human rights, passage to Canada and contemporary culture, this Guide asks students to examine issues of identity, equality, community, and nation-building in both a historical and contemporary context.

How Much Do You Know about Black History in Canada? – Viewing Questions (50:18 mins)  secondary
How much do we know about black history in Canada? Who were the key figures? What do we lose when we don’t include black stories in our history? Moderated by Amanda Parris, host of Exhibitionists on CBC Arts, the panel includes: Nikki Clarke, Ontario Black History Society; Afua Cooper, Dalhousie University; Andrea Davis, York University; and Karen Flynn, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Educators Guide

Canadian Heritage: Government of Canada
This government site has links to a video centre, a pdf version of the Black History month poster and the Canadian Black History Virtual Museum and Treasure Hunt. Also includes information on the contributions of Black soldiers in the fight for Canada in the the War of 1812.

Library and Archives Canada (archived on-line for historical purposes)

Hymn to Freedom Project
The Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre’s Hymn to Freedom Project is a website where visitors can research, learn, and discover Canadian Black history.

Prominent Black Canadians

Noteworthy Historical Figures (Canadian Heritage)
Read the biographies of some notable people who have helped shape Canadian heritage and identity.

Black Communities in Canada: A Rich History
29 films offered by the National Film Board of Canada that portray the multi-layered lives of Canada’s diverse Black communities. The incredible stories of strength, courage and perseverance in the face of adversity that these films present are not often found in mainstream history books.

Profiles of Black Canadians
The Ontario Black History Society website has a variety of biographies of prominent Black Canadians

CANAdooDAday Viola Desmond (3:20 mins) ages 5-8
The story of one of Canada’s most famous civil rights icons, and the soon-to-be- face of the $10 bill is told.

CBC News Honouring Lincoln Alexander (3:04 mins)  age 9-12
Lincoln Alexander is Canada’s first black Member of Parliament, the country’s first black federal cabinet minister and Ontario’s first black Lieutenant Governor.

Black HERstory

Black Female Freedom Fighters – The Canadian Encyclopedia
Rosemary Brown said, “To be black and female in a society which is both racist and sexist is to be in the unique position of having nowhere to go but up.” 

CBC’s HERstory in Black
HERstory in Black shares the experiences of 150 women who excel in their field, who push for greater diversity and who help build vibrant communities.

Black Soldiers

Black Loyalist history
The Nova Scotia Museum documents the forming of the Ethiopian regiment during the American revolution and the migration of more than 3,500 Black Loyalists to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Black Soldiers in the War of 1812
A learning tool companion to Historica Canada’s Richard Pierpoint Heritage Minute by exploring his life and the experiences and contributions of Black soldiers in the War of 1812.

The No. 2 Construction Battalion and the Fight to Fight
The No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) — also known as the Black Battalion — was a segregated non-combatant unit during the First World War. It was the first and only all-Black battalion in Canadian military history.

Africville and Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children

Halifax’s Africville

Africville: The Black community bulldozed by the city of Halifax – (2:02 min) Heritage minute

NFB documentary, Remember Africville – (34:44)

Restorative Inquiry: The Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children

NSHCC Inquiry calls for new Child and Youth Commission

Underground Railroad Sites

National Geographic’s Underground Railroad Interactive Site

The Niagara Freedom Trail

Underground Railroad – Historica Minute (with links to other resources)

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (U.S.) (good for looking at human rights in the present day)

Canada’s Neighbours: Civil Rights in the United States

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) History

Biography Channel (Search for articles on prominent African-Americans.)

Montgomery Bus Boycott (Montgomery Advertiser)

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial