Every February, Black Heritage Month honours the legacy and contributions of Black Canadians, past and present. We’re proud to recognize and celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Black community members and invite you to join us this month.

On this page:

  1. About Black Heritage Month
  2. 2024 events
  3. Equity and anti-racism work
  4. Anti-racism resources

About Black Heritage Month

Black History Month originated in the United States in response to the lack of public information on the achievements of Black people. Black historian Carter G. Woodson co-founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915. Today, other countries, including Canada, have joined the United States in celebrating Black people and their contribution to history.

Black History Month was first celebrated in Canada in 1950. However, it was not until December 1995, following a motion introduced by the Honourable Jean Augustine, the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament, that the House of Commons unanimously carried the motion and officially recognized February as Black History Month in Canada. In 2008, Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black man appointed to the Senate, presented the motion, which resulted in the Senate officially declaring February as Black History Month. Oliver’s motion was the final parliamentary procedure needed for Canada’s permanent recognition of Black History Month.

Black History Month has also been referred to as African-American History Month, African History Month, African Heritage Month and Black Heritage Month.

Heritage or History

Overall, the general argument for the change from Black History to Black Heritage centres on the past. Celebrating the past has always been the focal point of Black History Month. However, Black Heritage commemorates past and present accomplishments within the Black community and sets sights on bright futures ahead. Black Heritage acknowledges the resilience and bravery of those who came before us while also acknowledging the ongoing barriers to equity and inclusion that are still present within our communities.

Most notably, the Guelph Black Heritage Society (GBHS), in collaboration with the University of Guelph’s Cultural Diversity Office and the Guelph Black Student’s Association, announced in 2021 that they would be recognizing Black Heritage Month. Nova Scotia, particularly the Halifax region, recognizes Black Heritage Month.

We’re committed to operating as an organization where racism and oppression are not permissible at either an individual or systemic level, and therefore, we recognize February as Black Heritage Month.

Colours

Black History Month takes its colours from the Pan-African Flag (also known as the UNIA flag, the Afro-American flag, the Black Liberation flag and the Marcus Garvey flag). The Pan-African flag was created in 1920 and was intended to symbolize freedom, pride and the political power of Black Americans.

Each colour in the Pan-African flag has a meaning:

  • the red stripe represents the blood that has been shed because of slavery and oppression that unites all black people
  • the middle black stripe represents Black people’s skin colour and is symbolic of the strength of their community
  • the bottom green stripe represents the fertile lands of the African continent

The combination of these three colours signifies the spirit of the black community, a people who are striving to create a society free of oppression.

When you see yellow with these colours, it symbolizes the immense riches found in the many countries across continental Africa.


2024 events

Throughout Black Heritage Month, community partners will be organizing events throughout Waterloo Region, including community favourite, Bring on the Sunshine, happening at Kitchener City Hall on February 18.  

On February 9, we will a ‘Lunch and Learn’ for city staff, focusing on Black mental health, coping mechanisms, community resources and how we can support staff. This includes a 20-minute Soca Corporate Fitness session.

On February 29, members of city council will be joining more than 50 Black youth from schools across Kitchener to celebrate their achievements and have a panel discussion on mental health barriers they face in their schools, communities and homes.   


Equity and anti-racism work

Visit our Corporate Strategy on Equity and Anti-Racism page to learn about what we’re working on.


Anti-racism resources

Black Heritage Month is a time dedicated to honouring the legacy and contribution of Black Canadians, both past and present. It’s important that this learning and recognition extends beyond February.

We’ve collected some articles, videos and lists of local Black-owned business to support your learning journey.

Articles

Videos and courses

Local Black-owned businesses