Statement – Black history is Canada’s history

February 1, 2021 – 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 we celebrate the start of Black History Month. It is a month to honour the legacy of Black Canadians and celebrate their contributions to building the Canada we share today.

It is an opportunity to show that Black history is Canadian history.

All of us are indebted to the Black women and men who have worked tirelessly to build our country – every trailblazer, every activist, every person who pushed for something better. Every person who pursued their career or vocation, despite the obstacles placed in their path.

From Viola Davis Desmond, to Mary Ann Shad Cary, to Carrie Best, to the Hon. Jean Augustine. From Elijah McCoy to Willie O’Ree to the Hon. Lincoln Alexander to the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean.

They are scientists, teachers, and policy makers; they are entrepreneurs, leaders, athletes; they are artists, writers, journalists, and human rights advocates.

As we highlight their contributions, the struggles and challenges that they faced are impossible to ignore – racism and discrimination denied many basic equality and human rights. Many made history by standing up to what they knew was wrong, or by pushing for what had never been done before. Through their courage and activism, Black Canadians laid the groundwork for the diverse and inclusive society we are building today.

As is often said, looking to the past can help us better understand what’s happening in the present, and help us build a better future. It is important that we embrace and celebrate the stories of Black Canadians. That we uncover the stories that have so far been untold. That we stand together against anti-Black racism in all its forms.

I invite you to learn more about Black History in your community, your province or territory, and indeed throughout all of Canada. Let’s continue to elevate Black history.

Because Black history is Canada’s history.

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