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CNC Celebrates Black History Month

February is Black History Month and while it may seem more significant to our neighbours south of the border, it tends to be overlooked right here in British Columbia.

For the College of New Caledonia, 2017 marks the 20th year celebrating the contributions black people have made to the province over the past century from the railways to the mines.

CNC Instructor and Black History Committee Chair George Kaweesi says this month is suppose to support inclusion and diversity.

“Something that’s been overlooked for a long time, and we feel there’s been lots of contributions made by black people since the days of slavery.”

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Kaweesi adds it’s important to remind all generations about this month of recognition.

“We also try to educate the young people. There’s many black young people that have been born in Canada, but they don’t know their own history, so in some ways, we try to educate them so that they don’t forget where they came from.”

In 1858, 800 black pioneers escaping racial persecution in San Francisco came to BC in search of work and a safe place to raise their families.

The BC Government says many of them enriched the foundation of the province and went on to play significant roles in politics, business, sports and the arts, including:

  • Sir James Douglas, first governor of the Colony of British Columbia.
  • Rosemary Brown, first Black woman elected to a Canadian provincial legislature.
  • Harry Jerome, Olympic track athlete and recipient of the Order of Canada.
  • Mifflin Wistar Gibbs, attorney, judge, diplomat and banker.
  • Emery Barnes, politician and BC Lions athlete.
  • Selwyn Romilly, B.C. Supreme Court judge.
  • Joe Fortes, Vancouver’s first official lifeguard and respected public figure whose monument stands today in Alexandra Park.

Today, more than 33,200 British Columbians trace their ancestry from Africa.

(With files from Kyle Balzer with MYPRINCEGEORGENOW and BC Gov News)

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