Black on the Prairies
Highlighting the triumphs, challenges, and contributions of Black people on the Prairies
What does it mean to be Black in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba?
BLACK ON THE PRAIRIES is a multiplatform project led by CBC Saskatoon journalist Omayra Issa and CBC Radio host Ify Chiwetelu, supported by CBC's BEING BLACK IN CANADA project. Launched on April 26, 2021 in collaboration with CBC Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, BLACK ON THE PRAIRIES is a collection of articles, personal essays, images, audio stories and more, exploring the past and present lives of Black people on the Prairies.
"The stories of Black life on the Prairies are an indelible part of Canada's history. This project celebrates the legacy of over 200 years of recorded Black presence on the Prairies, and looks to the future of the fastest growing Black population in the country. It is important storytelling on the Prairies and in Canada," say Omayra Issa and Ify Chiwetelu.
The earliest arrivals sought opportunities and built communities, while challenging racism and discrimination, something that remains to this date. Today, Black people continue to help shape Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba from the largest cities to the smallest rural towns.
BLACK ON THE PRAIRIES shares triumphs and challenges, and underscores the contributions of Black people on the Prairies through five themes — Migration, Work, Politics and Resistance, Black and Indigenous Relations, and Black Futures.
Migration: This theme explores the arrival and movement of Black people on the Prairies.
Work: How has Black presence impacted the Prairie economy? This theme looks at the contributions of Black communities in the workforce.
Black and Indigenous Relations: The solidarity, disconnection, and everything in between Black and Indigenous communities is explored in this theme.
Politics and Resistance: From sit-ins, to Black Lives Matter protests, this theme provides an analysis of how Black resistance has looked on, and shaped, the Prairies.
The Future: The fastest growing Black population in Canada is on the Prairies. This theme imagines the future of Black prairie life.
The development, production, and delivery of this project prioritised the involvement of Black journalists and storytellers, and engaged a 10-person community advisory board that provided critical feedback and guidance on the project, ensuring that Black on the Prairies authentically represents a diversity of experiences and histories.
Black on the Prairies launch party
On April 26, CBC presented a virtual launch celebration hosted by Ismaila Alfa of CBC Toronto's Metro Morning, featuring a photo booth, trivia, prizes, and exclusive interviews with CBC Manitoba's Ify Chiwetelu and CBC Saskatoon's Omayra Issa, who shared their journey in producing Black on the Prairies.
Ruth B. debuted her new single, "Situation", along with incredible performances by Saskatchewan 2021 JUNO nominee K-Anthony and Manitoba's unforgettable Super Duty Tough Work.
CBC Music's Black on the Prairies playlist
Looking for more music to carry you through the week? CBC Music has curated a Black on the Prairies playlist. Experience the Prairies through music created by the top Black artists hailing from Wild Rose Country, The Land of the Living Skies and Friendly Manitoba. In addition to Ruth B. and Super Duty Tough Work, hear Nuela Charles, JayWood and more.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada. Read more stories here.