Black history is today and everyday

February 1, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

In honour of Black History Month, Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, issues the following statement:

Today, as we mark the start of Black History Month, we honour Black Canadians who have helped build the Canada we know today.

Their passion, talent and vision has transformed and strengthened every facet of our society. They are heroes and trailblazers. They have inspired generations of Canadians.

From Rose Fortune, to William Hall, to Anderson Ruffin Abbott, to James R. Robinson. From Jack Johnson, to Portia White, to Fred Christie, to Harry Jerome, to Lincoln MacCauley Alexander. From George Elliott Clark, to Carrie Best, to Austin Clarke, to Wayne Adams and Oscar Peterson.

It is important that in celebrating the stories of Black Canadians, we look to find those stories not yet told. There are many heroes and trailblazers whose names we do not yet know, but who have had a profound influence on who we are today. Black Canadians played a role in shaping our society as teachers, writers, journalists, doctors, nurses, lawyers, activists, artists, business leaders, thought leaders and public servants.

For many, the work they did and the contributions they made, came with challenges and struggles that many of their peers did not face. They made history by standing up for what they knew was right. They spoke out, and they fought against inequality, injustice and racism. We celebrate their courage, their resilience and their determination to make Canada a better place.

As we reflect on our past, we cannot avoid the truth about our present: Black Canadians continue to face racism and prejudice in their daily lives. We must confront and dismantle systemic racism. We must stand together against anti-Black racism.

Black history is Canada's history. Black history is today and every day. Let us make a commitment to learning about and elevating the accomplishments and stories of Black Canadians — not just for 28 days in February, but every day.

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