February is Black History Month in Canada. We have been celebrating Black History Month since 1976. In 1995, the Government of Canada decided that February would be known as Black History Month. It is a time to recognize the many contributions of Black Canadians. It is also a time to reflect on the complex history of Black Canadians.
There were some key historical figures of African descent that helped shape Canada, such as Mathieu Da Costa, who was an interpreter working with Dutch and French fur traders in the 17th Century. He is said to have been the first black person to visit Canada.
African people were once enslaved in Canada much like they were in the United States. In fact, slavery was only abolished in 1834 in Canada. Many people of African descent came to Canada from America because they were promised their freedom, during the American Revolution. The American Revolution was the American Colonies' war for independence from Britain, which took place from 1775 to 1783. At this time and after, a lot of former slaves settled in communities on Canada's East Coast. One of these settlements was called Africville, which was in Halifax.
In 1851, a fierce abolitionist named Harriet Tubman, helped slaves escape from America into Canada through a network of secret safe houses and routes, which was called the "Underground Railroad". Tubman began and ended her 10 or more journeys. to free slaves, in St. Catharines. Tubman also made St. Catharines her permanent home for a while and most of her family also lived there with her.