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“You cannot paint white on white, black on black.  

Each needs the other to be. “

African proverb

In February 2018, as every year, Radio-Canada marks Black History Month with a varied program on all platforms.
This site includes exclusive content and recent archives on the realities facing our black fellow citizens. Learn more

Portraits of Black Canadians

Find out more about black Canadians who contributed to the building of Canada and who are making their mark every day.

About Black History Month

The first Black person in Canada, Mathieu Da Costa, arrived on the country’s East Coast in 1605. He’d sailed with Samuel de Champlain, hired as a valued interpreter. But for the many Blacks who arrived after him, the experience was very different. Black history in North America, unlike “White” history, must take into account the hundreds of thousands of Africans who were brought to this continent against their will. The…

The Afro

“Where are you from?” A seemingly easy question becomes difficult to answer for a Canadian immigrant as she examines the complexities of origin. Using poetry, spoken word artist Amani takes us on a personal journey that defines her Canadian identity without denying her cultural history. A film by Lucius Dechausay Documentary, Scarbourough, Ontario, 2007, 3 min 45 s from the Digital Diversity contest of Radio Canada International

George Elliott Clarke

A seventh-generation Canadian, George Elliot Clarke has shared his award-winning talent teaching English and Canadian Studies at Duke, in North Carolina, at McGill in Montreal and then he settled at the University of Toronto, where he is currently the E. J. Pratt Professor.  He is an expert in Canadian and African diasporic literature.

Dr. Hervé Blanchard

The pioneer in pediatric liver transplants saved countless lives

Everybody Plays the Piano…But Not Like Oliver Jones

Oliver Jones talks about his life as a musician and how the music led his course to rediscover his roots. This world renowned pianist has worked with many artists and says the ones who have impressed him most are those who have remained humble. He has remained humble himself by remembering where he started. A film by Awakhiwe Dlodlo, for Radio Canada International Documentary, Montreal, 2010, 5 min 10 s

Charlie Biddle

Remembered as the father of the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Charles Biddle lent his name to the club that kept the groove going year-round.  Biddles, now known as The House of Jazz, was a draw for jazz stars and fans, from around the world.  Charles Biddle was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2003.  The Saint Jean Baptiste Society said, ‘without him, Quebecers might not have developed…

Portia White

In Portia White’s hometown of Truro, Nova Scotia there is a monument in her memory. Following her international career she settled in Toronto and taught voice until she died in 1968.  In 2007 she was posthumously awarded the Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Fruit That Grows Anywhere: Alex Cuba

This Cuban Canadian feels comfortable living in a small town in Smithers, BC, Canada. And Alex Cuba doesn’t miss his Cuban roots because he has adapted well in his new country. He says his music is also Cuban-Canadian and he keeps searching in himself that fruit which can grow in both countries.

Up From the Roots

Set in Montreal, Quebec, ‘Up From The Roots’ examines the relationships that exist between the city’s various Caribbean-Canadian communities, as well as their roots and identity.

Remembering Our Original True Stories

This documentary follows a seventh generation Black Canadian man who goes to Jamaica for the second time, on a mission to document and reconnect with his Jamaican Maroons Roots. At Stepney Elementary School, in the birthplace of the legendary Bob Marley, as Papa Grand teaches and shares the oral history passed down to him from his Nova Scotian ancestors as well as from the Maroons of Acompong Town, Trelaney and…

Lou Hooper

Once Oscar Peterson’s piano teacher, Lou Hooper wrote ragtime classics like, The Cakewalk, Black Cat Blues, South Sea Strut and Uncle Remus Stomp.  Lou Hooper died in Charlottetown, PEI in 1977 not long after the debut of the ballet he wrote, called Congo.

RCI • Radio Canada International
Luc Simard – Director of Diversity and Relations. Radio-Canada

Your opinion on Black History Month

Black History Month is only celebrated in North America and in the UK. Do you think it should be celebrated all over the world?

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