February is Black History Month — a time to learn about Black history in Canada and celebrate the many contributions of Black Canadians over the centuries.
One look at this year’s Black History Month calendar shows that Black culture in all its diversity is thriving here in Edmonton and throughout the province. The history of Black people in Alberta dates back to the 18th century and well before the formation of the province and country. Today, numerous charities and community groups are working to unearth Black history, spotlight the stories and perspectives of Black Canadians, and ensure an equitable present and future for all.
Below, we’re compiling the many events and programs scheduled for throughout February 2022 in Edmonton, sharing the incredible stories and history available online, and highlighting Edmonton-based organizations working for the betterment of Black Canadians. We will continue to add more information throughout February, so be sure to check back regularly for the latest additions.
Do you have an event, story, or organization you would like us to promote? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to add it to this list!
Nurture your inner art connoisseur while celebrating Black artisans, this Black History Month at the Black Futures Market. Visit us Feb 5 & 6 at the Manning Hall, on the first floor of the Art Gallery of Alberta for a two-day market featuring over 15 Black-owned businesses and services. Entry is free* to the market, featuring locally handmade goods, artworks and items by Alberta’s Black community.
An evening of readings featuring University of Alberta Writer in Residence Ifeoma Chinwuba and City of Edmonton Poet Laureate Titilope Sonuga, hosted by Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike.
Join us on February 10th for a free Screening of John Ware Reclaimed by Albertan filmmaker Cheryl Foggo at the Art Gallery of Alberta. This NFB film follows filmmaker Cheryl Foggo on her quest to re-examine the mythology surrounding John Ware, the Black cowboy who settled in Alberta, Canada, before the turn of the 20th century. Foggo’s research uncovers who this iconic figure might have been and what his legacy means in terms of anti-Black racism, both past and present. This film screening is part of the public program for the exhibition Inheritance and in recognition of Black History Month. Due to limited capacity in the theatre, registration is required in advance.
I grew up not really thinking of myself as Black. I had no Black friends and no connections with Black communities. Indeed, as a kid who struggled with social anxiety, I found other Black people kind of intimidating. It wasn’t until much later in life, with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, that I began reading, watching and listening to try and understand the very different lives being experienced by people who looked like me. Then after my election in 2015, I found out I was only the third Black person to ever serve as an MLA in Alberta. I began to see what that meant to others and it began a journey of exploration of Black history and communities in Alberta and my identity and place as a Black man.
Join MLA David Shepherd for this presentation via Zoom.
This event will detail the history of Thomas Peters. Peters fled slavery to freedom and fought on the side of the British during the American Revolutionary War. As a result, he earned the status of Black Loyalist, and in 1784, at the end of the war, was transported to Nova Scotia. The British promised land, tools, provisions, and full equality with Whites for all the Black Loyalists. But in Nova Scotia and later New Brunswick, the British betrayed the promises they made to the Black Loyalists, and reduced them to a state of deprivation, subjugation, and sometimes slavery. Outraged and disappointed, Peters took up the case of his community, and through a series of petitions called on the colonial governments of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to make good on the promises made by the Crown. When the colonial governors turned a deaf ear, Peters travelled to London, England to plead the cause of the Black Loyalists to the imperial government. Likewise, in London, he wrote a series of petitions outlining the grievance of the Black community, and revealing the various manifestations colonial anti-Black racism. While in London, Peters was presented with the opportunity for the Black Loyalists to migrate to Sierra Leone to start a new colony on the West African coast. He travelled back to Canada and organized the exodus from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to Sierra Leone.
Edmonton’s Poet Laureate Titilope Sonuga, ’08 BSc(CivEng), brings her poetry of hope, healing and the capacity for tenderness in challenging times to the University of Alberta. In this virtual performance, Sonuga will be accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Enoch Attey in a fusion of poetry and music. An in-depth conversation will follow with Rayanne Haines exploring Sonuga’s life and work, and the transformative power of the arts.
As part of the university’s Black History Month celebrations, the History and Classics Club (in partnership with the Office of Human Rights, Diversity, and Equity) invites members of the MacEwan community to attend an online viewing and discussion of I Am Not Your Negro (2016), Raoul Peck’s award-winning documentary about the great American writer James Baldwin. Inspired by Baldwin’s unpublished reflections on the assassinations of three of his friends–the civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr.–the film vividly recreates his formative experiences during the 1960s, interspersed with insightful commentary on the history and future of race relations and gay rights in the United States.
Join us for the February edition of our Community Tour Series, which invites a new speaker each month to lead a tour of a current exhibition, giving our audience a unique perspective on the artwork on display. This month we are thrilled to welcome curator Belinda Uwase to lead a tour of the exhibition Inheritance featuring work by Deanna Bowen, Steven Nunoda, Adrian Stimson and AA Bronson.
The Edmonton and District Historical Society’s second Speaker Series event of 2022 features the Alberta Labour History Institute’s Donna Coombs-Montrose and her presentation titled The Battle for the Common Ground. The presentation uses the International Decade for People of African Descent and the United Nations Proclamation to review the progress of people of African descent in Edmonton. Against the backdrop of the fight for the historical and contemporary battles for equality and recognition of our African-Canadian population, we examine the obstacles, the gains and the journey ahead for ‘equal’ space.
On February 26th, 2022, in celebration of Black History month, the BBFB project will be hosting Black Business Owners and Entrepreneurs across Edmonton at the inaugural By Black For Black (BBFB) Business Summit.
This FREE Business summit will showcase and celebrate the works of some of Edmonton’s Black Businesses and Entrepreneurs. In addition to this, there will be a Lunch and Learn session with Edmonton’s Black changemakers. Come and taste the best of Africa’s cuisines.
Presented by Africans & African Descendants Friendship Club of St. Albert:
A variety show of Singing, Dancing, Drumming, Arm Chair Travel, Poetry, Fashion Parade and Food Tasting – after the event.
A virtual exhibit hosted by the Edmonton City as Museum Project, And Still We Rise is a collection of articles and images that explore the formation of Alberta’s Black communities from the late 1800s through to the early 1970s.
February is Black History Month and in celebration, EPL will be hosting a Doc Talk on the film: “White Scripts and Black Supermen: Black Masculinities in Comic Books”. This booklist of comics and graphic novels is inspired by this documentary available for free on Kanopy.
A curated list of books and videos available through the NAIT Library on various topics supporting Black History Month.
A NAIT grad offers suggestions for true inclusivity.