Black History Month is underway in the capital
OTTAWA -- Black History Month has begun in the capital and around the world. It's a time to commemorate, celebrate, and recognize the achievements of Black Canadians.
Events around the globe, such as the death of George Floyd in the U.S. in May of 2020, sparked protests and renewed calls for racial justice everywhere. Those calls were echoed in Ottawa.
"We were protesting because of Abdirahman Abdi," says Sarah Onyango, who is the media relations coordinator for Black History Ottawa.
Abdi died following a violent confrontation with Ottawa police in 2016. Last October, the officer charged in his death was found not guilty of all charges.
The COVID-19 pandemic is also playing a role in this year's Black History Month events in Ottawa. Onyango says this year's theme is 'Still on the Front Lines'.
"The front lines of a public health emergency, which is COVID-19, and another public health emergency, which is anti-Black racism," Onyango said.
Analysis has shown that COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on racialized communities in Canada, including here in Ottawa.
Black History Month dates back to 1926 in the United States, but didn't become officially recognized nationally in Canada until 1995. It is dedicated to celebrating the many achievements and contributions of Black Canadians to the country's history and culture.
This year's events are also taking place during the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, which runs from 2015 until 2024.
"We want to highlight the important contributions that people of African descent have made, and are making," says Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey of Parkdale United Church. "Throughout this month, there will be a variety of lectures, events, gatherings—obviously virtual—that people are invited to engage with."
Those events are listed on the Black History Ottawa website.
The Ottawa Public Library is also holding many events, under the theme "Canadian Black History in the Making."