Black History Month: February and Forever
How to show up in support of Alberta’s Black community members beyond Black History Month
By Angelique Rodrigues 28 February 2022 10 min read
Black History Month is an important opportunity for people across Canada to celebrate Black heritage and culture, and learn about the legacy and ongoing contributions of Black Canadians.
This year’s Black History Month theme is February and Forever: Celebrating Black History, today and every day.
It’s about building increased awareness of the achievements and contributions of Black community members into our everyday practices and amplifying their voices and stories in our day to day experiences - throughout the year.
Many Black Canadians have worked tirelessly to enhance cultural diversity, shape Canada’s identity and create more inclusive spaces that are free from discrimination, but their role has largely been ignored as a key part of Canada’s history.
Alberta’s Black community also continues to face racism and systemic barriers that prevent their full participation in society, along with disproportionate health and economic impacts from the pandemic. It’s more important than ever, for every Albertan to do our part to show up for the Black community.
If you’re wondering where to start, we’ve put together a list of ways we can all show up, in appreciation and celebration, of Alberta’s many Black business owners, artists, activists, content creators and other community members.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and we encourage our readers to continue to explore additional resources that exist online and in our communities.
Listen to Black stories
The media we consume shapes our world view, which is why it’s vitally important to diversify the voices and stories you’re listening to. Studies have shown podcasts have the potential to be a powerful anti-racist tool.
Blacktalk is a podcast, based out of the University of Alberta, about the personal experiences of global Black experts and Black Canadians contextualized within the historical experience of being Black.
The Black on the Prairies project, by CBC, is a collection of articles, personal essays, images and more, exploring the past, present and future of Black life in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Rhizome Podcast is a youth-led story-telling project of Roots4Change - in the episode Being a Black Muslim Woman in Alberta they sit down with Ganiyat Sadiq (she/her). Ganiyat is a research and policy professional with a specialization in the intersectionality of the experiences of Black Muslim Women.
In a special episode of Anticulture for Black History Month, Josiah speaks with documentarian Deborah Dobbins about Alberta's Black history, how discrimination is dealt with, and how the frontier of the Canadian prairies has strong Black heritage - despite the racism that still prevails in the Albertan stereotype.
Check our bias and do the research
We all carry inherent biases and prejudices. In the pursuit of anti-racism and a better understanding of the Black experience in Alberta and Canada as a whole, it’s critically important to examine our own biases, and acknowledge the underlying stereotypes and prejudice that exist in our society.
Psychologists with Harvard, the University of Virginia and the University of Washington co-created "Project Implicit" to develop Hidden Bias Tests—called Implicit Association Tests (IATs) in the academic world—to measure unconscious bias.
This anti-racism kit is created and provided by Southwest Communities Resource Centre in Calgary to help guide and equip people on their anti-racism journey.
Founded by six women in Calgary’s anti-racism community, this facilitation tool serves as a learning space to easily access shared anti-racism knowledge, tools and other resources.
Part of Canada’s School of Public Service offerings and developed by Ontario’s Human Right’s commission, this course is part of the Anti-racism Learning Series and offers a historical overview of racism and racial discrimination in Canada.
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation has developed an exclusive, free on-line curriculum with reading materials. Community members can participate in courses led by faculty members who are experts in the topic of discussion.
For more anti-racist education tools and resources, check out:
This anti-racism resource was created by a collective of volunteers in Alberta and is designed to build a more anti-racist community. Being actively committed to eliminating racism requires a conscious decision to learn, unlearn, and take action every day.
Diversify your spending
Consider where you’re spending your money in your community. How many of the places you visit and products you purchase are owned by Black entrepreneurs? Making an effort to support Black-owned businesses can help build intergenerational wealth and, in part, reduce the racial wealth gap that continues to exist in Canada.
This hand designed accessory brand founded by Teni Ajayi seeks to educate and showcase Black and African culture to the world. Using sustainable materials, each piece includes a nod to, or story about, African culture.
Inspired by and made in Edmonton, Alberta, Token Bitters is the city’s first local bitters company, combining locally produced spirits with local artisanal bitters. Best of all - they are made with organic ingredients and sourced from Alberta farms.
Based out of Calgary, Alberta, Little Paper Co is a 2S/LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC owned card making shop. They create inclusive greeting cards but also focus on curating cards for the LGBTQ community and celebrating our lives and relationships in meaningful ways by acknowledging our unique identities.
Chemical engineer and fitness fanatic John Mary Igbelina created Agu Athletics, a fitness apparel company. The line of clothing is meant to empower and provide people with the confidence and courage to show up.
Natasha Brussel is Calgary-born, award winning communications and public relations expert and a certified business and life strategist helping Albertans achieve their personal and professional goals.
Here’s another great resource to find other Black-owned vendors in Edmonton: https://www.bomyeg.ca
Eat at Black-owned restaurants
If you’re wondering how you can support Alberta’s Black community this month and beyond, start with lunch. Alberta is home to a large number of Black-owned restaurants, featuring an array of delicious, culturally diverse, eats and treats.
Bolo Cakery is a popular bakery and cafe, serving cakes, cookies and coffee in a gorgeous setting in downtown Calgary.
El Beso is considered one of the hottest spots in Edmonton for Mexican cuisine, inspired by the flavours found in Tulum, Mexico.
This Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurant in downtown Calgary is open for dine-in, takeout and delivery through DoorDash.
Chi-Buking, started in 2015, is the largest African food market in Red Deer, serving up ethnic food and drinks to the surrounding community.
Edmonton’s well-loved Sugar Bowl might be best known for its cinnamon buns but it also serves up craft beer and a delicious menu for any meal of the day.
Broaden your music playlist
Black musicians have long been subjected to a number of inequities in the music industry, from under-representation in C-suite music industry roles to cultural appropriation and whitewashing in the art form itself. While the music industry faces down its history of racism, we can help enhance equity by diversifying our playlists to include more Black artists and by listening mindfully to the stories told through Black music.
Adaeze is a singer-songwriter from Edmonton, Alberta and the founder of Exposed Creatives YEG - a local non-profit that strives to create opportunities for youth to connect, collaborate, and create together.
Biboye Onanuga is a British-born Nigerian-Canadian musician based in Edmonton. A multi-talented musician, Biboye co-leads the quartet Good Information.
Classified as lo-fi soul music, Sargeant and Comrade are a dynamic duo from Calgary, Alberta. Infusing soul, jazz, funk, dancehall and hip-hop together, the pair create unique sounds that merge the old with the new.
Sinzere is a Rap/Soul artist from Calgary, Canada. Her cutting-edge lyrics and deep cinematic sound has led her to open for hip hop royalty.
Hailing from Edmonton, Alberta, K-Riz is an R&B artist who made waves with his album debut in 2016. He recently released a much anticipated album in 2021 called “Peace & Love,” which chronicles his experience with heartbreak, love, loss and grief.
Read more from Black authors
Black writers represent a rich and diverse body of literature, ranging from fiction to academic writing and everything in between. Their narratives have the power to shift perspectives and create new discussions around race, culture, politics, and Canada’s future. Reading books, and other resources, from Black authors can support fair representation, greater inclusivity and offer readers an important viewpoint on the history and amazing contributions of Black Canadians.
Cheryl Foggo is an award-winning Alberta-born playwright, filmmaker and author. Her book Pourin' Down Rain: A Black Woman Claims Her Place in the Canadian West explores her experience telling the stories of Black community members living in western Canada.
Bertrand Bickersteth is a poet, author and educator born in Sierra Leone, and raised in Alberta. His stories, including his book of poetry The Response Of Weeds: A Misplacement Of Black Poetry On The Prairies are rooted in his own experience growing up as a Black Albertan.
Esu Eduygan is an award-winning Canadian novelist born and raised in Calgary. Her work, including her novel Washington Black, is focused on Canadian Black history and Black diaspora.
Follow more Black content creators
Social media can have a huge influence on our experiences and identity, and when we fail to diversify our social media feeds, we create an echo chamber. That’s why it’s crucial to broaden our social media lens.
Ola Dada // @showtime.dada
Ola Dada is a comedian, born in NIgeria and raised in Alberta. His comedy draws comparisons between Nigerian and Canadian cultures.
Grace Mahary // @gracemahary
Grace is a supermodel, certified sommelier and philanthropist from Edmonton, Alberta. She started Project Tsehigh, a non-profit which provides access to sustainable, clean and affordable energy for communities in need around the globe.
Nwanneka // @thenkbeauty
Nwanneka Chimsunum is a Black content creator, IT Analyst and freelance makeup artist living in Airdrie, Alberta. Her feed is chock full of gorgeous looks and makeup tips.
Black Women United // @bwunitedyeg
Black Women United is a collective of community members, academics, activists, artists & proud Sisters of the Diaspora creating educational content in the pursuit of the protection and advancement of Black women and girls.
Maria Jose // @aglimpseofmaria
Maria Jose is a biracial, Calgary-based fashion blogger delivering beauty, lifestyle and cultural content around race relations and anti-racism in Canada.
Donate to non-profits that support Alberta’s Black community
If you’re in a position to donate, here is a list of Alberta-based, Black founded or led non-profits. Visit their websites to see how they have been working to uplift Albertans all across our province:
Realize Your Potential Youth Society - Alberta - based RYP Youth Society helps to support and empower 8-24 year old descendants of the African diaspora through mentoring and education.
The Black Bookshelf Project (TBBP) - founded here in Alberta, TBBP is on a mission of to promote equity, facilitate access to anti-racist books and celebrate diversity throughout Alberta's schools.
National Black Coalition of Canada Society in Edmonton - The National Black Coalition of Canada Society is an Edmonton-based organization that strives to create a positive impact in the Black community and supports and encourages children and young adults to realize their full potential.
Black Lives Matter YYC and Black Live Matter YEG- Collectives of advocates working towards the empowerment of all members of the Black community in Alberta and to continue the fight to end systemic discrimination in all of its forms.