Celebrating Black History Month
Through February, United Way Centraide joins the celebration of Black History Month.
Black community impact leaders, past and present, have been a part of shaping Canada’s heritage, communities, and identity. The celebration of the impact of Black Canadians on our communities should happen every day. We recognize this and have been taking Black History Month as an opportunity to uplift and support our Black communities with focus and intention.
Here’s a look at some of the reflections and community impact work taking place year-round across Canada:
The community of East Preston is a tight-knit Black Nova Scotian community in Halifax Regional Municipality. While more rural than other parts of the municipality, the community is not far from Cole Harbour and has its own school, community centre, daycare and other services. These places are all within walking distance of each other – except, the number 7 highway runs through the centre of East Preston. With a 70 km/hr speed limit, no crosswalks, narrow shoulders and limited bus service, the community has been fighting for safe active transportation options for decades.
In the spring of 2017, United Way Halifax partnered with the East Preston Daycare Centre/Family Resource Centre, the Ecology Action Centre, HRM Rec and Nova Scotia Health Authority to form a group to address this issue.
“The Niagara region has a rich history full of momentous achievements by Black Canadians. Their contributions have helped make Canada the compassionate and culturally diverse nation it is known as today. While progress has been made towards equity for Black communities in North America, we are consistently reminded that there is much more work to be done.”
Black History Month is a time to reflect on the struggles and strengths of the Black community. And while it is important for everyone to learn about past injustices such as slavery, there is also a desire to learn about current-day Black changemakers, to talk about how far the Black community has come and to look to the future. United Way Greater Toronto invited four Black community leaders in Toronto and the GTA to talk about Black History Month and share what they want to say to Black youth this February.
Virnetta Anderson was Calgary’s first Black city council member, elected in 1974. Today, the main reception area in the original city hall building is named the Virnetta Anderson Hall in her honour.
While civic politics may be her most notable work, her dedication to community building, advocacy, and volunteerism solidified her legacy. Virnetta served and led countless organizations, including time on the United Way Board of Directors from 1974-1978 and the United Way Speakers Bureau.
“We are committed to fighting poverty and social exclusion, Centraide is deeply concerned about the challenges and barriers faced by members of visible minorities. Together with our network of agencies, we work every day to foster diversity and inclusion. We therefore want to add our voice to those of thousands of others taking action here and around the world in order to do even more to make change happen.”