As February continues, Alpha Pi Phi would like to emphasize the importance of celebrating and educating one another on the history of black Canadians and Americans. While most Canadians are aware of the heroic underground railroad abolitionists who aided African Americans in escaping enslavement, there is so much more that isn’t apart of the everyday Canadian history conversation. As early as 1680, black slaves were brought to Canada and many more came later against their will throughout the eighteenth century. Additionally, the aftermath of the American Revolution resulted in free black loyalists coming to Canada. Yet, a significant number of African Americans traveling to Canada after the revolution were enslaved by white loyalists. A great deal of Canadians are also unknowing of the ties that this country has to slavery in the Caribbean as well. Many are quick to say that Canada and the United States are so different from one another, when the truth is that Canadian society has played its own role in the oppression of black Canadians back then and continue to in the present day. Thankfully, Alpha Pi Phi is a safe, inclusive space for people of colour and we pride ourselves on being apart of such a diverse group of young women.
Black History Month is a time to reflect on how far we have come as a black community, whether it be through education, the arts, businesses or political change. Too often, the extent of Canadians’ black history awareness doesn’t go far beyond knowledge of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman. This is a time to learn about the endless list of inventors, artists, writers and activists that did not receive recognition for their work simply because of the colour of their skin. Black people continue to fight against systematic racism occurring in the education system, politics, places of work, the police force, and the list goes on. This is a time to remember all of the black children, women, and men who have been killed by racist police officers who have deeply rooted hate or fear of the supposed ‘threat’ that they believe black people to be. In Canada, racism is alive and well. Some claim to not see it, as it often comes in the form of microaggression. People of colour deal with various forms of discrimination and racism everyday of their lives. February should not be the only month that you choose to educate yourself on the injustices that the black community has been facing since the beginning of colonization and slavery, but if you are reading this, thank you for taking that first step.