Join us in marking Black History Month 2023. Black History Month provides us with the opportunity to celebrate and learn about the many achievements, investments, and contributions of Vancouver’s Black and African diasporic communities, even while these communities have endured historical and continuing inequality, oppression, and erasure.
Watch the reading and presentation of the Black History Month proclamation in Council chambers
This Black History Month, we are:
It is not sufficient to simply observe Black History Month and recognize the contributions of leaders from the Black and African Diaspora community. We must make a consistent effort to acknowledge, empower, and value the perspectives and experiences of all individuals in the Black community every day.
The City of Vancouver recognizes that it has played a role in perpetuating discrimination against Black and African diaspora communities and is committed to addressing anti-Black racism in all its forms. We are actively working to address the recommendations made by the community and make necessary changes to combat systemic racism. Find out more about the steps we have taken in advancing reconciliation, anti-racism, and equity actions.
A pioneering figure in Canadian sports and education, she was the first black woman to represent Canada in an international competition.
Throughout her 40-year teaching career, Barbara inspired countless students and worked to promote equity and inclusivity in the classroom. Her contributions to both sports and education were recognized throughout her life and posthumously.
We renamed the Cambie Street Plaza in her honor to commemorate her legacy as a pioneer in Canadian sports and education, inspiring future generations.
A trailblazer in politics and a champion for the Black community in Vancouver. He was the first Black member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, representing the double-member riding of Vancouver Centre. Throughout his career, Barnes advocated for marginalized communities, emphasizing human rights, and world peace.
He dedicated his life to serving others, and his legacy inspires future generations. The City of Vancouver established a park in Barnes' memory to commemorate his contributions to the city and recognize his impact on the Black community in Vancouver.
A pioneering figure in the Vancouver community known for her role in operating the popular Southern-style restaurant, Vie's Chicken and Steak House, in the historically Black neighborhood of Hogan's Alley. The restaurant was a cultural hub, attracting locals and touring entertainers such as Lena Horne, Sammy Davis Jr, Louis Armstrong, and Jimi Hendrix, and served as a place for people from all walks of life to gather, socialize, and share stories.
In honor of her contributions, the City of Vancouver placed a commemorative plaque to commemorate her impact on the cultural richness and importance of Hogan's Alley neighborhood.
- Hogan's Alley External website, opens in new tab
- Hogan's Alley Society External website, opens in new tab
- The Canadian Encyclopedia – Black History in Canada External website, opens in new tab
- BC's Black Pioneers: Their Industry and Character Influenced the Vision of Canada External website, opens in new tab
- To understand BC’s Black history, connect past and present External website, opens in new tab
- The New African Diaspora in Vancouver: Migration, Exclusion and Belonging, by Gillian Creese External website, opens in new tab
- Secret Vancouver: Return to Hogan’s Alley (video) External website, opens in new tab
- BC’s Black Pioneer Women, the Tyee External website, opens in new tab
- Massy Books: Black History Month book list External website, opens in new tab
Black history in Vancouver
BC has a rich Black history dating back to Canada’s colonial origins. In 1858, nearly 800 free Black people left the oppressive racial conditions of San Francisco for a new life on Vancouver Island. These pioneers enriched the socio-economic life in their community, overcoming intense discrimination and adversity. From the 1920s to the 1960s, Vancouver’s Black Community clustered in the East End, with its nucleus at a site known as Hogan’s Alley, and became a thriving Black community and cultural hub.
In 1967, the decision to expand the highway system through Vancouver resulted in the expropriation of land and buildings in this area to make way for the construction of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts, resulting in the loss of homes and businesses. The Black Community was uprooted from this area and an identifiable Black neighbourhood has not re-emerged in Vancouver.
Black History Month was recognized by the Government of Canada in the House of Commons in 1995. The motion was introduced by the Honourable Jean Augustine, the first Black Canadian woman elected to parliament. Vancouver City Council passed a motion in 2011, designating Black History Month one of its official celebrations. Every February, we celebrate the history, contributions, and culture of Black Canadians.
Work we are doing with the community
Canada Post stamps
Issue date: January 29, 2023
This year, Canada Post’s 2023 Black History Month stamp features Chloe Cooley, who had a profound impact on the history of enslavement in Canada.
- Canada Post's article about Chloe Cooley External website, opens in new tab
- Canada Post's tribute video to Chloe Cooley External website, opens in new tab