Celebrating Black History Month

Celebrating Black History Month

Media, News

February 1st marks the commencement of Black History Month, a time dedicated to recognizing and honoring the significant contributions of Black individuals throughout history. This year in Canada, the theme “Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build” emphasizes not only the historical achievements of Black Canadians but also the collective journey towards a more equitable future.

Aligned with the 10th year of the International Decade of People of African Descent (IDPAD), proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 2013, this month serves as an opportunity to reflect on progress made and areas for improvement on a local, national, and global scale. The IDPAD aims to highlight the diverse culture and contributions of individuals of African descent while advocating for their rights and enhancing their quality of life.

In Victoria, numerous events are scheduled throughout the month to explore Black history from both local and national perspectives:
Events – BC Black History Awareness Society

Resources are also available from organizations like the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, offering commemoration guides for Black History Month 2023 and educational materials on racism and anti-Black racism. The Government of Canada’s Black History Month webpage provides a digital toolkit, videos, and biographies of notable Black Canadians who have made significant contributions to the country’s history.

BC: British Columbia Black History Awareness Society

Canada: Visit the Government of Canada’s website for more societies and groups across Canada.

Additional Resources:


National Film Board: Black Communities in Canada

Explore this free collection of films by award-winning Black filmmakers, creators, and allies of the Black community, detailing a rich history to better understand the present.

Journey to Justice
This documentary pays tribute to a group of Canadians who took racism to court. They are Canada’s unsung heroes in the fight for Black civil rights. Focusing on the 1930s to the 1950s, this film documents the struggle of six people who refused to accept inequality.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019, UK, about Malawi)

(Available on Netflix) Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture. Directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor, based on the true story of 13-year-old William Kamkwamba’s quest to builds a wind turbine to save his Malawian village from famine.

Two Distant Strangers (2021, USA)

(Available on Netflix) 2021 Oscar Winner, Best Live Action Short Film. In this Oscar-winning short film, a man trying to get home to his dog becomes stuck in a time loop that forces him to relive a deadly run-in with a cop.

National Film Board of Canada playlist celebrating Black History Month

A collection of 30 films by Black filmmakers, creators and allies that portray the multi-layered lives of Canada’s diverse Black communities.


“Hymn to Freedom” by Oscar Peterson and Oliver Jones (2004, Canada)

Canada’s very own Montréalais Oscar Peterson’s “Hymn to Freedom” became an anthem of the US civil rights movement during the 1960s. This is Oscar Peterson and Oliver Jones’ last public appearance, playing at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2004. Peterson died in 2007.

Tutu” by Miles Davis (1986, USA)

Winner of the 1986 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist Grammy Award. Miles Davis released the album Tutu in 1986, dedicated to Archbishop Desmond Tutu after being inspired by his humanitarianism and activism against the Apartheid regime.


How to spark change within our unequal education system (2021, Canada)

From the Conversation’s “Don’t Call Me Resilient” series. Carl James, professor of education at York University and Kulsoom Anwer, a high school teacher who works out of one of Toronto’s poorest neighbourhoods, discuss the inequalities and injustices in the public education system that have been exacerbated by COVID19 – and the way forward.

Black health matters (2021, Canada)

From the Conversation’s “Don’t Call Me Resilient” series. Roberta Timothy, assistant professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, talk about her global health research project, Black Health Matters, and why racial justice is a public health matter.

Children’s Literature

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre (2021, USA)

Winner of the 2022 Coretta Scott King Book Awards for Author and Illustrator and a 2022 Caldecott Honor Book. Written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Floyd Cooper, a sensitive introduction for young readers (grades 3-6) about the devastation of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in American history.

13 Exceptional Kid Lit Books to Read for Black History Month (2022, USA)

Booklist by the Anti-Defamation League. Recommended books include picture books, chapter books and graphic novels. Each book comes with two discussion guides: one for educators and one for families.

Black History Month Reads for Teens

A list of non-fiction, fiction, graphic novels and poetry that celebrate Black voices and illuminate Black history.

Historical fiction

Africville by Jeffrey Colvin (2019, Canada)

The story of Africville, the settlement for Nova Scotia slaves who built Halifax in 1749, and which became a close-knit and prosperous community until Halifax demolished it in 1960s in what many felt was an act of racism.


Celebrating Black Canadian Poets by 49th shelf (Canada)

A handful of collections by Black Canadian poets writing in English curated by Kerry Clare for 49th Shelf.

Celebrating Black History Month

Poems, articles, and podcasts that explore African American history and culture.


NPR ‘Fresh Air’ remembers Archbishop Desmond Tutu (2021, USA, about South Africa)

In tribute to Archbishop Desmond Tutu who passed away on December 26, 2021: Desmond Tutu was an indefatigable Anti-Apartheid activist and defender of peace and human rights worldwide. In this broadcast, NPR re-airs interviews with Tutu (from 1984 and 1999) about his work and philosophy that grounded his approach chairing the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Apartheid, War, Palestine, Guantánamo, Climate Crisis & More (2021, USA, about South Africa)

In tribute to Archbishop Desmond Tutu who passed away on December 26, 2021. Desmond Tutu was an indefatigable Anti-Apartheid activist and defender of peace and human rights worldwide. In this broadcast, Democracy Now! re-airs interviews and speeches throughout Tutu’s life and advocacy about a number of global and contentious issues, ranging from South African Apartheid to the present day.