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Black history and human rights

Discover. Learn. Reflect.

Discover Black stories, voices, struggles and triumphs. Learn about personal and collective acts of resistance and the ongoing fight for equality. Reflect on how we can work to end colonial and racist systems of repression.

 A black and white photo of a movie theatre audience. The picture is taken from the front of the theatre looking towards the back, so the faces of the audience can be seen. Potted palm trees line the walls on each side. Partially obscured.

Photo: Hannibal Free Public Library, Steve Chou Tomlinson

One woman’s resistance

Viola Desmond helped inspire Canada’s civil rights movement by refusing to give up her seat in a movie theatre. Now, she is on the $10 bill.

A head-and-shoulder portrait of Viola Desmond framed by a vertical purple rectangle. Viola is wearing a white top.

Canadian civil rights trailblazers

By Jason Permanand

For her courage and tenacity, we remember Viola Desmond as a Canadian civil rights pioneer. But did you know she was not the first Black Canadian who fought against segregated theatres?

 A black and white photo of a movie theatre audience. The picture is taken from the front of the theatre looking towards the back, so the faces of the audience can be seen. Potted palm trees line the walls on each side.

Black Lives Matter and the struggle for racial justice in Canada

By Debra Thompson

Protest movements reveal and resist the injustice of systemic racism in Canada. Black community activism includes public protest, policy change and collective care.

A large group of people holding signs with slogans such as “Black Lives Matter,” “Enough is Enough” and “Your Silence is Betrayal.”

The story of Africville

By Matthew McRae

If you’ve never heard of Africville, you’re not alone. This small Black community was demolished by the City of Halifax in the 1960s. Its residents have been fighting for justice ever since.

A group of wooden houses next to a large body of water with red flowers in the foreground.

Black sleeping car porters

By Travis Tomchuk

Black men employed as sleeping car porters in Canada from the late nineteenth century until the mid‐1950s experienced racial discrimination and exploitation on the job.

A black and white photo of four men in train porter uniforms. All of the men are smiling, and the two men in the middle appear to be shaking hands.

The story of Black slavery in Canadian history

By Steve McCullough and Matthew McRae

Canada celebrates being a destination for Americans who escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad. But slavery was also part of Canada’s history for more than 200 years.

Rusted iron manacles hang on hooks on a plain white wall.

From refugee to firefighter

By Maureen Fitzhenry

In 1991, Ali and his wife fled a brutal civil war in Somalia, ending up in a Kenyan refugee camp with their 3 children. After a long process, they immigrate to Canada.

A smiling man stands in front of a fire truck.

The story of Nelson Mandela

By Matthew McRae

Mandela spent 27 years in prison for opposing South Africa’s apartheid system. He refused to give up his efforts to achieve equality for all people.

Un homme et une femme levant le poing en signe de victoire, suivis d’une grande foule.

The Sharpeville Massacre

By Matthew McRae

Discover how the South African government’s murderous response to peaceful protest inspired local and international action against apartheid.

People stand in front of a row of coffins.

Justice after genocide: Rwandan Canadian community activism

By Jeremy Maron

Explore how members of the Rwandan Canadian community mobilized to pursue justice, within Canada, for the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

A group of people walking down a street with sign that reads “Commémoration du génocide contre les Tutsi du Rwanda. Avril-Juillet 1994.”.

The Wilcox County integrated prom

By Matthew McRae

In 2013, graduating students at a high school in Georgia, held their school’s first‐ever integrated prom, where Black and white students could attend together.

A smiling woman stands in front of a red prom dress and a black tuxedo mounted on mannequins. Both the dress and suit are on display behind a glass case.

Voices of women and girls in war

By Isabelle Masson

Grace and Evelyn were abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda when they were just girls. They managed to find their way back to freedom but have faced many new struggles since they returned home.

A woman is holding a baby, while four men in army fatigues stand beside and behind her. They are all standing in front of a forest, posed for the camera.

Powered by love: Grandmothers fighting HIV/AIDS

By Matthew McRae

It took Gogo Gladys Tyophol many years to come to terms with the death of her only son.

A head-and-shoulders portrait of Gogo Gladys Tyophol. She is wearing glasses and a blue patterned kerchief wrapped around her head. Her shirt says GAPA and a red AIDS ribbon is attached to her sweater.

Pass the Mic: Let’s Talk About Racism

By Sarah Adomako-Ansah

When it comes to racism, there is a lot to learn and unlearn. Listening to those with lived experiences is an important first step in taking a stand against discrimination.

Photo on the left – A biracial man dressed in drag. He is wearing a black headpiece, black leather gloves, a black leather dress and and black and white sweater. Photo in the centre – a Black woman wearing black and red Athletic gear, jumping. She has blonde braids. Photo on the right – a Sikh-Canadian man, smiling, wearing a black and white striped sweater, blue and brown pants, boots, and an orange turban, in the snow in front of a cabin.