“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr.
MARCUS GARVEY (17 August 1887 – 10 June 1940), was a proponent of Black Nationalism in Jamaica and more prominently in the United States. He was called “The Black Moses” and is largely remembered as an advocate for education and self-reliance. We believe his life and this quote embodies the essence of our predecessors and the BC Black History Awareness Society, today and tomorrow.
The BC Black History Awareness Society had its beginnings in the mid-70’s as the Victoria Black Peoples Society (VBPS). Their desire was to bring together people who not only had an interest in BC’s Black History; they were also looking for a community to develop and nurture an interest in Black History for their children. A major achievement of the VBPS is the document "Blacks in British Columbia: a catalogue of information and sources of information pertaining to Blacks in B.C."
VBPS secured funding from the then Department of the Secretary of State Student Community Service Programme. The “catalogue” is 11 chapters, 230 pages with hundreds of references to Canadian, Provincial, and International books, articles, manuscripts and newspapers from across the Province dating back to 1858 … and amazingly this was a summer project, completed in just 15 weeks – all typed on a Smith Corona Typewriter. The original document is housed at the UVIC Archives. Read the Preface and Acknowledgement.
In 2017 the BCBHAS undertook a project to digitize the catalogue; it is presented largely in its original format with the 11 chapters. It is searchable and can be found here as Information Sources
Becoming BCBHAS: In June, 1993 a number of people from the community that included business persons, academics, artists and students, met to address a request from the Royal BC Museum to plan, organize and co-host a number of events that would serve to celebrate Black History Month in February 1994.
The committee called itself "The Black History Special Event Advisory Committee". The events were successful with over 5000 people attending. This success was the impetus for several committee members to continue this work. They applied for Society status and on on March 18, 1994 the BC Black History Awareness Society received a Certificate of Incorporation.
In the early 2000's the group did struggle to sustain the desired level of interest, but it was re-invigorated; and on January 6, 2006 the organization was re-incorporated as the BC Black History Awareness Society as we know it today.
Fulfilling Our Purpose
Hosting public events throughout the year. The variety of events and activities, the speakers, their credentials and topics, recognizes the breadth and depth of the interests of our members and those who support us. The themes of our events include Recognizing and Celebrating People and Historic Events through recognition, commemorative plaques and refurbishing grave markers; Arts and Culture with concerts, art exhibits, visual displays; Guest Speakers on topics that are of local, national and international interest and a Black History Month Program. Find out more about "the history of Black History Month" and how the Society celebrates today. Check our Event History archive for all previous events including access to the event recordings/videos.
Education and Awareness
- Providing educational resources on this website. All the resources in our Learning Centre could be used by educators and parents but here is a selection of resources, many with teaching information, guides and materials.
- Producing the online exhibit BC Black Pioneers: Their Industry and Character Influenced the Vision of Canada. This exhibit is listed as an Educational Resource on the Government of Canada’s Black history organizations and educational resources website.
- Being a founding member and providing support on the BC Black History Curriculum Committee (BCBHCC), formed in summer 2020. The main purpose of this committee is to influence the Ministry of Education/Minister to include Canadian Black history intentionally in the BC curriculum “to create a more fully rounded citizenry and diminish the impacts of acute and systemic anti-Black racism throughout the province of British Columbia.”
- By invitation, for many years the Society has worked directly with teachers as well as through the Greater Victoria Public Library delivering presentations that are approximately 45 minutes in length. The schools, more than 17 since 2011 in 36 classrooms, are middle schools as well as high schools throughout the Greater Victoria area and the Saanich Peninsula.
Working with community organizations to provide forums for knowledge acquisition and understandings; creating, promoting, developing partnerships
Working with Youth to encourage them through the promotion of Black history, culture and identity.
The Society also helps to support students financially, through the Rosie Jones and Joan Cook Memorial Bursary that is administered by Camosun College
Our facebook page focuses on events delivered by our Society and other community events that are of interest to our members.