Celebrate Black History Month

From attending local virtual events to reading books, here is a list of resources to learn more about the stories of Black Canadians.

Ways for you to celebrate and learn about the meaningful contributions of Black Canadians

February is Black History Month — a time where we celebrate the many achievements that Black Canadians have contributed to Canada's history and culture. 

Alberta has a rich history of African culture. In fact, the fastest growing Black population in Canada is on the Canadian Prairies, where it has quadrupled in the last 20 years. 

With the pandemic, celebrations will be a bit different this year. However, there are still many ways for us to learn about the contributions of Black Canadians while we are at home. And, we have compiled a list below.

(Simone Elizabeth Saunders)

Virtual events to attend

Books to read

The Calgary Public Library has put together a list of books about Black Canadian and American history in honour of Black History Month. You can also select from the categories below:

(CBC Books)

Illustrative books to read with the kids:
Below is a list of 10 picture books recommended by Calgary Reads to celebrate and learn more about Black History Month. Two books on the list, "Africville" and "Viola Desmond Won't be Budged," focus specifically on Canadian black history.

  1. Africville by Shauntay Grant, illustrated by Eva Campbell
  2. All Aboard! Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine by Monica Kulling, illustrated by Bill Slavin
  3. Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
  4. I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
  5. Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson, illustrated by Frank Morrison
  6. Ron's Big Mission by Rose Blue and Corinne Naden, illustrated by Don Tate
  7. The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrated by Oge Mora
  8. The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
  9. This is Your Time by Ruby Bridges
  10. Viola Desmond Won't be Budged by Jody Nyasha Warner, illustrated by Richard Rudnicki

A Canadian perspective: 
Check out these 25 books by Canadian authors that highlight what it means to be Black in Canada. 

Films and TV series to watch

(CBC Gem)

Movies from Black Canadian Filmmakers:
The Calgary Underground Film Festival has put together a list of 10 Black Canadian Filmmakers whose work should be celebrated during Black History Month. They have listed some of their favourite films from these directors, including Calgary-born Cheryl Foggo, and where, if possible, you can stream these films online.
  1. Clement Virgo

    • Rude (1995) | Crime, Drama

    • Lie With Me (2005) | Drama, Romance

  2. Charles Officer

    • Invisible Essence: The Little Prince (2018) | Documentary | Full version is available on iTunes and shorter version can be found on CBC Gem

    • Unarmed Verses (2017) | Documentary | Available on CBC Gem

    • Nurse.Fighter.Boy (2008) | Drama | Available on CBC Gem

  3. Dana Inkster

  4. Cory Bowles 

    • Black Cop (2017) | Drama | Available on CBC Gem

  5. Kelly Fyffe-Marshall

    • Haven (2018)

  6. Cheryl Foggo

    • John Ware Reclaimed (2020) | Documentary | Now available for educators on NFB  CAMPUS and available for everyone on and beginning February 8. 

  7. Thyrone Tommy

    • Mariner (2016) | Short, Drama, Fantasy View | Vimeo

  8. Hubert Davis

  9. David (Sudz) Sutherland

    • Love, Sex and Eating the Bones | Comedy, Romance | Available on YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

    • Speakers for the Dead (2000) | Documentary | Available through NFB 

  10. R.T Thorne

    • Utopia Falls: The World Is Yours (2020 TV Series) | Drama, Music, Sci-Fi | Season 1 is available on CBC Gem

(National Film Board)

Recommended by the National Film Board:
The National Film Board will be putting Cheryl Foggo's documentary John Ware Reclaimed on (English) and (French) on February 8.

Please note that the film will not be live on the website until the morning of February 8.

Educational videos from the Calgary Public Library to be published on on February 4:

  • John and Mildred Ware
  • Oliver Bowen
  • Charles Daniels
  • Virnetta Anderson
  • Violet King

Educational video on CBC Calgary:

CBC Calgary is highlighting the legacies of three black Calgarians who broke barriers, changed the city's history and influenced its present. Find out how Virnetta Anderson, Oliver Bowen and Violet King changed their city here.

Movies on CBC Gem

  • Hip Hop: The Songs That Shook America | Documentary, Music | February 1 

    From executive producers Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter, Shawn Gee and Alex Gibney, each episode of this new documentary series focuses on a groundbreaking song pivotal to the evolution of American music and culture.
  • Sherman's Showcase | Comedy, Radical Media | February 1
    *Exclusive Canadian Premiere*

    This groundbreaking, wickedly funny mockumentary series travels through time via music and clips drawn from the 40-year library of a legendary (fictional) music and variety show. Cameos include John Legend, Tiffany Haddish, Mary J Blige and more.
  • How it Feels to be Free | Documentary | February 1

    This documentary tells the inspiring story of how six iconic African American female entertainers – Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier – challenged an entertainment industry deeply complicit in perpetuating racist stereotypes, and transformed themselves and their audiences in the process. Directed by Yoruba Richen and executive produced by Alicia Keys.
  • Giants of Africa | Documentary | February 1

    A behind-the-scenes look at a basketball youth program set up in Africa by the General Manager of the NBA's Toronto Raptors, Masai Ujiri. Directed by Hubert Davis.

  • Anthony | Drama | February 5 
    *Exclusive Canadian Premiere*

    In July 2005, Anthony Walker was murdered by two white racists in an unprovoked attack in Liverpool. He was just 18 years old. Anthony tells the story of how this talented young Black man's life may have turned out. Directed by Terry McDonough.
  • Nancy's Pro Tips | February 19

    Once a month Nancy Falaise closes the doors to her Montreal salon to lead a workshop for young Black girls eager to learn how to care for their natural hair. Falaise was featured in Nancy's Workshop from CBC Short Docs, and this new four-part series shares hair care tips from her workshops that didn't make the final cut. Directed by Aïcha Diop.

  • 21 Black Futures part 1-3 | CBC Arts and Obsidian Theatre Anthology Series | February 12, 19 and 26

    21 Black Futures is an anthology of 21 filmed monodramas, commissioned from 21 multigenerational Black playwrights across the country, directed by 21 Black directors and performed by 21 Black actors. Aligned with Black History Month and Obsidian Theatre's 21st anniversary, each episode of 21 Black Futures will respond to the question, "What is the future of Blackness?".

Music to listen to

Recommended by Calgary Folk Music Festival:
The Calgary Folk Music Festival's Block Heater series is back from February 16 -20, 2021. The artists that are part of their Black Future Month programming are Valerie June, Kelly Bado, Dr. Henry and Tarik Robinson.

Listen to a curated playlist here:

On CBC Listen:
Debuting on February 1, The Block is a brand new, two-hour radio show, airing 7 to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday on CBC Listen

About the show:
Hosted by Edmonton-raised, Toronto-based Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe, The Block is the home for music of Black origin. The music played will reflect the many intersections within Black music from across the diaspora; where Soca meets Pop (Rihanna), R&B meets Reggaeton (J Balvin), the transformative leaders in Hip-Hop today (Haviah Mighty, Chika, Clairmont The Second), the elite artists with the ability to execute in multiple genres (Drake, Beyoncé) along with regular nods to the early influencers of Hip-Hop and Funk.


Want more?

Check out CBC's Being Black in Canada. It focuses on the diverse stories and experiences of Black Canadians, and a breadth of content including news, documentaries, arts and other programming.

For Black History Month, Being Black in Canada will produce a series of eight Features on Black men making a difference in their communities. Following in the footsteps of the acclaimed HERstory In Black initiative and in response to the recent, ongoing reckoning on race inspiring many to push for change, Being Black in Canada is shining a spotlight on Black men who are continuing their journey for social justice and are more determined than ever to effect long-lasting change. These profiles will be featured on Being Black in Canada, Canada Tonight with Ginella Massa, The National, followed by a half-hour CBC News Network special hosted by Asha Tomlinson.

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