Along with the U.S., its northern neighbor Canada celebrates Black History Month annually in February.
Much of its history includes focal points of the African American experience, especially pre- and post-slavery when abolitionists and opponents of the practice took black people in bondage to freedom and a new life in the country. The majority of black Canadians are of African and Caribbean descent and comprise of 2.5% of the total population.
In celebrating this month, here’s a snapshot of black Canadian leaders who have made great strides in politics, healthcare, sports and more:
Bibb was an author and abolitionist who was born a slave and escaped to freedom in Canada in the 1800s.
He also published his autobiography Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave, Written by Himself, which became one of the best-known slave narratives of the time. Becoming a publisher in 1851, he set up the first black newspaper in Canada, The Voice of the Fugitive. The paper included news and commentary against the slave trade and was a resource for other escaped slaves who’d settled in the country.
Anne Cools is the first black person appointed to the Senate of Canada and the first black female senator in North America. She’s also its longest-serving member.
A native of Barbados, she was raised in Montreal, and as a student she was active in Canada’s civil rights demonstrations including a 1969, 10-day sit-in at Sir George Williams University.
In 1974, founded one of the first shelters for abused women in Canada, Women in Transition Inc., and served as its executive director.
Famously known for being a hip-hop heavyweight, Aubrey Drake Graham began his entertainment industry career as an actor on popular Canadian high-school drama DeGrassi: The Next Generation.
His first studio album, Thank Me Later (2010), debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum. His subsequent albums would have similar success and he’d go on to win many awards including a Grammy, Juno Awards, BET Awards and recognition as one of the top-selling hip-hop artists of all time.
Drake is also a producer under the pseudonym Champagne Papi and has also written songs for other artists, including Alicia Keys (“Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)”), Rita Ora (“R.I.P.”), Jamie Foxx and Trey Songz. He also has a clothing line under his belt and endorsements.
(Continued on next page)