Black History Month – Not All About Slavery

Usman G. Akano & Elizabeth Akano

In December 1995, the Parliament of Canada officially recognized February as Black History Month. The recognition followed a motion introduced by an African-Canadian woman member of Parliament, the Honourable Jean Augustine, M.P. for Etobicoke-Lakeshore.  At the time Ms. Augustine was Parliamentary Secretary to the Canadian Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Jean Chretien. By this action, the Parliament of Canada was responding to the fact that the rich history of Canadians of African descent, including their contributions to the development of Canada as a vibrant country, is virtually absent in our history books and in the classroom.

As far back as 2 500 BC, thousands of years before the ugly slave trade, Africans had developed magnificent empires, intricate artifacts, and great wealth. Black history, therefore, is intended to bring some of this history to the Canadian public in the month of February.  For all Londoners, and in particular for the educators, the Black History month is an opportunity to look at the backgrounds of all the African-Canadians in Canada and in our classrooms.