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Black History Month Vancouver 2012


Thursday, January 26th, 2012 — 11:32am PDT
Comments 1

Already recognized in Canada and the United States, the City of Vancouver has also officially declared February as Black History Month. Last year I touched on Vancouver’s Black history by doing up a small profile on East Vancouver’s Hogan’s Alley, but there is a much greater story to be told and celebrated.


Governor Douglas ca. 1860 Royal BC Museum
BC Archives# 193501-001. Call#: A-01229

Although often overlooked, there’s a rich tapestry of Black history going back to the early colonial origins of Canada.

In 1858, nearly 800 free Black people left the oppressive racial conditions of San Francisco for a new life on Vancouver Island. Governor James Douglas had invited them to settle in British Columbia. Though still faced with intense discrimination, these pioneers enriched the political, religious and economic life of the colony.

Unknown to many, Douglas was himself the product of a mixed marriage — his father was Scottish and his mother Guyanese. Douglas strove to be known as Caucasian; however, he quickly agreed to the appeal from the San Francisco delegation. In turn, the Black pioneers pledged their support to Douglas and to the cause of British sovereignty.

Many from that initial group have contributed notably to BC life: Mifflin Gibbs became a prominent politician; Charles and Nancy Alexander initiated the Shady Creek Methodist Church; and John Deas established a salmon cannery. The group also formed one of the earliest colonial militia units, the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps. A ceremony took place on February 20, 2000, in Saanichton, BC to honour the original arrival of Black pioneers in British Columbia. [City of Vancouver]

Vancouverites like Harry Jerome, Emery Barnes, and Dr Rosemary Brown were pioneers in their fields, and the legendary Joe Fortes was named Vancouver’s “Citizen of the Century”.


VPL Number: 21746. Photographer / Studio: Dominion Photo Co.

Local Black History Month Events

What: Women of Our Times, Here & Now. Join The National Congress of Black Women Foundation as they honour: Barbara Howard, Eleanor Collins, Eve Smith, Marcella King, Thelma Gibson, and Jeni LeGon. A reception, a silent auction and live entertainment to follow.
Date: Saturday, January 28, 2012
Time: Doors open 5:30pm, 6:00pm start
Where: James Cowan Theatre, Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, 6450 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby
Event Link

What: 5th Annual Pan Afrikan Slam. Poetry and music, presented by Black Dot Roots and Culture Collective. Admission by donation.
Date: Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Time: 8:00pm
Where: Calabasha Bistro, 428 Carrall St
Event Link

What: Movie – The Godmother of Rock & Roll: Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Date: Thursday, February 9, 2012
Time: Doors at 6:30pm, 7:00pm start
Where: Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St
Event Link

What: Free movie – The Mighty Jerome
Date: Monday, February 27, 2012
Time: 7:00pm
Where: Vancouver Public Library, 350 West Georgia

What: Theatre: Intimate Apparel. The story of 35-year-old Esther who is an independent African-American woman who makes a good living sewing exquisite undergarments and corsets for brides-to-be. Set in 1905 New York.
Date: Saturday, February 11, 2012
Time: 4:30pm to 6:30pm
Where: The Arts Club Theatre, Granville Island Stage
Event Link

What: Honouring Black History Month Though Oral Tradition: “Family Celebrations: How Does your Family Honour Heritage?”. Admission by donation.
Date: Saturday, February 11, 2012
Time: 4:30pm to 6:30pm
Where: Intercultural Hub, Matsqui Recreation Centre, 3106 Clearbook Road, Abbotsford
Event Link

A full list of events is available on the City of Vancouver’s Black History Month homepage.

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One comment

  1. Tash says:

    Are there events yet organized for2013?

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