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Black History Month: A time to listen, learn and reflect.

Published on:
February 9, 2024
February 1, 2024

What is Black History Month?

Simply put, “Black history is Canadian history.”

In 1995, the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month in Canada following a motion put forth by Dr. Jean Augustine (the first Black Canadian woman ever elected to parliament). It was clear that Canada needed to acknowledge the long, often unfortunate, history with Black communities in its foundation.

Now, we take time every February to celebrate and appreciate the importance of Black history and Black culture in Canada. We reflect on the many achievements and contributions of Black Canadians and their communities who have helped shape the places we play, work and live in. Together, they have done so much to make our city, and Canada, a culturally diverse, compassionate and prosperous place to learn and grow.

It is also a time for all Canadians, and our entire BGC Ottawa Family, to be educated on the struggles and oppression that the ACB community face, their resilience and determination, and how we can further uplift and empower this important group of people.

“As someone who is still kind of a youth, I think that it’s our responsibility to carry those stories. Sometimes people in my age group might forget to honour the people that have come before us… but I think that it’s very important to honour… the people who are still here and honour our ancestors in any way and honour the history of our community,” said Aaron Parry, a university student from Hamilton, Ontario.

Why is it important?

Canada is admired for its multiculturalism, but it is easy to forget the vast range of diversity within each group. On the 2021 census, 1.5 million people in Canada identified themselves as Black. Within that group, there were more than 300 different ethnicities and cultures described. Approximately 41 percent of the 1.5 million said they were born in Canada, many of whom could trace their history here back several generations. The remainder had immigrated to Canada from various parts of the world, bringing their stories and experiences to us.

For those not directly involved in Black history, the conversation often centers around the history of enslaved people in this country. Though that is an exceptionally important part that should never be forgotten, Black History Month aims to acknowledge the diverse experiences of a very broad group of people. It is a time to learn about and celebrate all Black culture.

ACB people have shaped the face of Canada through our past, our present and will continue to shape our country’s future. However, there is still significant oppression being faced by this group today. Approximately 24 percent of ACB people in Canada (15 years and older) say they have faced discrimination in the last 5 years directly related to being Black.

“The hardest thing about being Black in Canada is the prejudice I face and that’s where my fear comes from,” said Cameron Davis, a 15-year-old YouTuber who uses that platform to make videos about what it’s like to be a Black teenager living in Canada.

Though great strides have been made in the fight for equality, we need to continue the conversation to carve a bright and fruitful future for ACB youth. BGC Ottawa believes that all Black Canadians, and the entire ACB community, deserve to be celebrated, have equal opportunity and the chance to make an impact in their neighbourhood, city and beyond.

What Can We Do?

BGC Ottawa acknowledges that ACB children and youth continue to face barriers, and we work to dismantle them by providing access to FREE programs and services in the community. The Club provides programs like our Diversity Library and Equity Book Club to allow our ACB Members a place to discuss important topics, and a place for non-ACB Members to learn and build understanding.

BGC Ottawa provides safe, supportive places where all kids and teens, of all backgrounds, can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, and develop confidence and skills for life. We achieve this through representation in our staff, the resources we provide and specific training so we can better support our Members and their families.

The Club is committed to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). We acknowledge and appreciate our ACB Family, and we celebrate and honour their contributions to the organization, our city and society.

Over the course of the month, we’ll be celebrating in our Clubhouses by sharing stories, offering fun-filled activities with an educational focus, treating Members to culturally diverse foods during snack time, watching short videos and listening to a wide range of music.

“We must open the doors and we must see to it they remain open, so that others can pass through,” said Rosemary Brown, the first Black Canadian woman to become a member of a provincial legislature and the first woman to run for leadership of a federal political party.

Help us continue to open the doors and ensure they remain open.

At home, we encourage everyone to look, listen and learn. There are numerous resources available to all that help educate you on Canada’s Black history and what it means today:

  • Government of Canada
  • Statistics Canada

It’s also important to get your children involved – they are our future and the future of Black history!

Click here to access a video to get them started courtesy of CBC Kids.

For our ACB Members and families, we want you to feel involved and connected. Our community has a multitude of resources available, and here’s a short list:

  • ACB Wellness Resource Centre
  • Black History Ottawa
  • Black Ottawa Connect
  • Black Youth Helpline
  • Jaku Konbit
  • Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition

“Black history is not just for Black people. Black history is Canadian history,” said Dr. Jean Augustine. Her impactful words remind us that the stories of Black Canadians creating positive change in our society should be told to people of all backgrounds and recognized as our collective history as Canadians.

BGC Ottawa recognizes the importance of Black history today and every day. To learn more about our EDI work, visit

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