Join us in marking Black History Month 2021. Every year, we host a celebratory kick off to Black History Month in Council Chamber on February 1. This year, because of COVID-19, we're doing things a little differently.
We've engaged BlackArt Gastown to create and curate a photo map called Give Them Their Flowers that celebrates ten Black residents who are making impactful contributions to life in Vancouver. Give Them Their Flowers aims to celebrate and pay respect to ambitious local Black leaders and creators, daylighting the rich Black settlement history in Vancouver, adding to the scope of public representation, and uplifting the presence of Black community. Learn more about these leaders and their hopes for Black communities in Vancouver.
We acknowledge that it is insufficient to celebrate Black history only one month of the year. The need to honour, uplift, and respect the voices and lives of our Black residents is constant. The City of Vancouver continues to fight against racism in all its forms, including systemic racism. We remain committed to the revitalization of Hogan’s Alley and creating space for the Black Community in Vancouver. Find out more about the steps we have taken in advancing reconciliation, anti-racism, and equity actions.
The locations presented on the map represent a nuanced diversity of Black impact and contribution to the fabric of Greater Vancouver.
Through BlackArt Gastown's work, we share 10 Black BC residents and organizations shaping our communities through activism. We also show significant neighbourhoods and areas, including Vancouver parks celebrating contributions of Black residents.
BlackArt Gastown and the City of Vancouver would like to thank the Black History Month Event Planning Committee for their support and involvement in this project.
BlackArt Gastown is a consultancy organization that is committed to preserving and promoting the historical, cultural, societal, and economic contributions made by Black Settlers, immigrants and their descendants, to Vancouver, BC, in relation to our current sense of belonging through artistic expression, education and cultural programming.
Honoring Black history in parks
How we honor Black history in Vancouver parks today, from a namesake park to a sculpture memorializing the Black experience.
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.
Find more information about the history of Vancouver’s Black Community and work the community is doing with the City of Vancouver:
Canada Post stamps
Issue date: January 22, 2021
Read Canada Post's article about how these stamps bring to light the founding stories of two early Black communities in Canada External website, opens in new tab
Amber Valley, Alberta
Willow Grove, New Brunswick