Black History Month is an annual observance in North America, during the month of February. It became officially recognized in Canada by the House of Commons in 1995 as a month to honour Black Canadians.
Each year, during the month of February, Canadians are invited to participate in Black History Month festivities and events that honour the legacy of Black Canadians, past and present. It is a time to celebrate and remember all the ways that Black Canadians have contributed to our nation’s history and culture as well as providing an opportunity to learn about African cultures.
Here are some of the ways that this month can be commemorated with children.
Visit a Museum
Not only during the month of February, but all year long, you can visit museums to learn more about African history, culture and the contributions that Black Canadians have made to Canada. Local museums in Ontario include:
- The Amherstburg Freedom Museum in Ontario preserves African-Canadian artifacts
- In Chatham, Ontario, the Buxton National Historic Site and Museum collects and preserves African-Canadian historical objects
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site in Dresden, Ontario, is dedicated to Rev. Josiah Henson. He lived in the 1800s and worked to lead slaves to freedom. The historic site includes a museum, as well as Henson’s original home
Learn About Famous Black Canadians
This is a great time to highlight the accomplishments of famed black Canadians such as:
Viola Davis Desmond – In 1946, Viola Desmond refused to sit in the balcony of the Roseland theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, and sat on the floor reserved for white people instead
Willie O’Ree – the first black player in the National Hockey League
Elijah McCoy – known for inventing a device that lubricated a train’s moving parts while the train was still moving and the portable ironing board
Lincoln Alexander – the first black member of parliament in Canadian history
Jean Augustine – one of the first Black Canadian women elected to the House of Commons.
Music and Song
Learning through music is always a great approach. Have children listen to the blues or songs about the American civil rights movement such as “This Little Light of Mine”. Or perhaps a lesson on the history of hip-hop music.
Get a Taste of Culture
There’s no better way to experience a different culture than through food. Try baking sweet potato biscuits which are a traditional soul food treat.
Compile a Reading List
There are many books geared towards children and youth that are great reads for black history month so pay a visit to the local library or bookstore and compile a reading list.
For more great ideas and resources visit the Canadian Heritage page on the Government of Canada’s website.