Join us in marking Black History Month 2022. 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.
This Black History Month, we are:
- Honoring Vancouver’s Black leaders who are no longer with us
- Supporting Canada Post’s 2022 Black History Month stamp featuring Eleanor Collins
It is not enough to just celebrate Black History Month and highlight past and present leaders in the Black and African Diaspora community. Each and every day we should be honouring, uplifting, and respecting the voices and lives of all members of the Black community.
For too long, the institution of the City of Vancouver and its elected leaders have perpetuated discrimination against Black and African diaspora communities. The City of Vancouver is committed to addressing anti-Black racism in all its forms, including systemic racism. Staff are prioritizing this work and are focused on addressing the recommendations made by the community. Find out more about the steps we have taken in advancing reconciliation, anti-racism, and equity actions.
Joe Fortes, 1863 to 1922
On February 4, we recognize the 100th anniversary of the passing of prominent community leader, lifeguard, and swim teacher, Joe Fortes.
Photo credit: City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 677-440, Stuart Thomson photographer.
Read more about Joe Fortes:
Thelma Towns (nee Gibson), 1928 to 2021
We mark the recent passing of renowned performing artist, Thelma Towns (nee Gibson).
Photo credit: City of Vancouver Archives, 2014-089.0805, Artray Limited photographer.
Read more about Thelma Towns:
Mel “Trick” Davis, 1937 to 2021
We also mark the recent passing of former professional basketball player with the Harlem Globetrotters, and leader of youth basketball development programs in Vancouver.
Photo courtesy of "Hardwood".
Read more about Mel Davis:
- Globe and Mail (legacy.com) External website, opens in new tab
- CBC External website, opens in new tab
- Hogan's Alley External website, opens in new tab
- Hogan's Alley Society External website, opens in new tab
- Black Strathcona 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
- SFU’s Homegoing: Blackness and Belonging across the Canada/US Border with Debra Thompson (event) 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
Issue date: January 21, 2022
This year, Canada Post’s 2022 Black History Month stamp features Eleanor Collins, a jazz singer, television host, and civic leader known as Canada’s First Lady of Jazz.
- Read Canada Post's article about Eleanor and the significance of her accomplishments External website, opens in new tab
- Watch Canada Post's tribute video to Eleanor Collins External website, opens in new tab