The first Black History Month was officially recognized across Canada 25 years ago as a way to recognize and honour the contributions that Black people make, and have made, to society. It also celebrates resilience, innovations and determination to work towards a more diverse and inclusive Canada.
“Black History Month is about this outpouring of both identification and appreciation of Black culture, Black struggle and everything that comes on the spectrum in between,” said Caleb Asfaw, a 23-year-old who grew up in Victoria.
But it’s also a time to recognize the struggles of the Black community, many of which were brought to the forefront over the past year as the Black Lives Matter movement swept over the globe.
“We have made so much groundbreaking work in getting people to understand and see,” said Asfaw. “It’s unfortunate the events that we had to have to really be humanized is the loss of human life.”
The Black Lives Matter movement swept across the globe last year following the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis who was killed by a police officer in May. Protests and demonstrations, demanding systemic change and justice were carried out in cities across the world, including Victoria.
READ MORE: ‘My whole heart is warm:’ Thousands gather at Victoria’s Centennial Square for Black Lives Matter event
While February serves as an opportunity to bring these issues to light, activists say the message must continue after the month ends.
“Black history month is the month that we bring to the centre, but also, I’m black all the time from January to December, my skin colour does not change,” said Buisa. “It’s important when we talk about these months, that we continue to use the momentum from this month into the next month.”
“If we move forward and forward, push this into the education system the same way we do it with other major issues, it really could foresee change in the same sense that we saw in the last 100 years in progression,” said Asfaw.