BCBHAS Event History

Event Archive

February 26 2021

Celebrating Black History Month 2021 with Music

Pablo Cardenas beside image of Oscar Peterson
The sensational Cuban pianist Pablo Cárdenas brings his top trio and reproduces many of Oscar’s most famous and beloved performances. On the line up Rob Johnson on bass, Cyril Lojda on drums. In a career spanning more than 60 years, Canadian jazz pianist and composer Oscar Peterson released over 200 recordings, won eight Grammy Awards, and received numerous other awards and honours. He is considered one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time and continues to inspire and challenge new generations of jazz musicians.
February 20 2021

“The Fifth Element” with legendary Hip Hop photographer Ernie Paniccioli

Ernie Panicciolli with one of his latest album covers

Learn the rich history of the 5 Elements of Hip Hop; Knowledge, Djing/Lyricism, Breakdancing/African dance, and Graffiti with special guest speaker, Ernie Paniccioli, legendary Hip Hop photographer and member of the Hip Hop Hall of Fame. Ernie has nearly 20,000 photographs at Cornell University Library’s Hip Hop archives. Ernie is joined by Shane Book, Canadian poet and filmmaker and Associate Professor of Writing at UVIC.  Watch

Image © Ernie Paniccioli, all rights reserved

February 17 2021

Symposium: Black Migration and British Columbia

BCBHAS Symposium Graphic

In 1858, an estimated 800 men, women and children of African descent came to British Columbia. Questions include why they came, what was their impact, why many left, where they traveled and many others. This symposium presents continuing research that reveals informative insights on this period of Black history.
Speakers: Dr. Adam Arenson, Professor of History at Manhattan College; Sherry Edmunds-Flett, doctoral candidate in History, Simon Fraser University; Dr. Stacey Smith, Associate Professor of History, Oregon State University.
Moderator: Dr. Dana Elizabeth Weiner, Associate Professor of History, Wilfrid Laurier University. Commentator: Dr. John Lutz, Professor of History, University of Victoria

February 7 2021

Putting Black British Columbia History to Work

Prof. Handel Kashope Wright

Prof. Handel Kashope Wright, Director of the Centre for Culture, Identity and Education.
“Paradoxically, it is no secret that the presence of Black BC is something of a secret. In other words Blackness appears to be so underrepresented in contemporary BC (with black people making up only 1.3% of the population and no discernible black ethnoburbs) that many outside and even within the province may be forgiven for thinking there is no Black BC per se and by extension, perhaps there never was a Black BC.”
“In this talk I try to address the persistent “absent presence” of Blackness largely in terms of history but also in terms of geography. More specifically, I take up named (and for the most part, somewhat known) historical figures (Mifflin Gibbs, Sylvia Stark and, if we dare colour him Black, Sir James Douglas) and use them to try to explain the strategy (racist erasure) by which Blackness has come to be rendered almost fully absent from the conception of BC and to assert the contemporary presence of a rich diversity (e.g. in terms of gender, sexuality, diaspora) of Blackness that belies and resists that erasure.”


December 20 2020

BC Black Pioneers exhibit opens at Digital Museums Canada

Digital Museum Canada BC Pioneer Exhibit Home Page

Designed and developed by our Society, British Columbia Black Pioneers is a collection of short stories about women, men, families, and partnerships that show the intricacies of the events, experiences, and circumstances of everyday life of the Black pioneers, such as winning prizes at the earliest Saanich Fair in 1875, organizing by women in Victoria to raise money to support Black troops in the American Civil War, and confronting discrimination while still achieving many “firsts” in business, politics, and education.

BC Black History Awareness Society (BCBHAS) created this online exhibit to share their stories and describe the influence that they and their families had on the province’s historical development and diversity. The exhibit, which officially opened in December 2020, is hosted by Digital Museums Canada. Visit the online exhibit
Read about this project

Image depicts some of the intrepid pioneers who made Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island their home beginning in 1858. Images courtesy of City of Victoria Archives, Royal BC Museum and Archives, and Salt Spring Island Archives. This collage was compiled by Beth Cruise, ©BC Black History Awareness Society.

November 11 2020

New grave marker for VPRC Captain Paris Carter

man places wreath at gravemarker

A new grave marker for Captain Paris Carter [1820-1890] and his wife Mary [c.1826-1890] was unveiled at the Ross Bay Cemetery and a wreath was laid. Paris Carter, served as Captain of the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps for a time.

The restoration and unveiling ceremony was sponsored by the Last Post Fund (LPF). Their mission is to ensure that no Veteran is denied a dignified funeral and burial, as well as a military gravestone, due to insufficient funds at the time of death.
Image: Ron Nicholson, long-term member and Board Member of BCBHAS, places a wreath at the gravesite for Paris and Mary Carter. © BC Black History Awareness Society

February 29 2020

Black History Month 2020

Poster black text with images on white background BHM 2020
July 4 2019

An Evening with Adelene da Soul Poet

text on left Adelene da Soul Poet, right side hands slightly cupped with fingers outstretched

At this event Adelene performed a number of her favorite poems and spent time after the performance with the audience.  The event took place in the upstairs lounge at the Bent Mast in James Bay, Victoria

About Adelene … She was born in San Francisco and raised in Vancouver, her direct descendants are the first of BC’s black pioneers, who settled on Salt Spring Island and Victoria in the mid-1800s. Her grandmother owned the famous restaurant Vie’s Chicken and Steaks, in Hogan’s Alley that was the meeting place for the neighborhood and any number of Black performers coming to Vancouver in the early 1940s to the late 1970s. She started writing poetry at a young age, grew up in the Motown era; that music is a big influence on her style. She says that her mother told her poetry was healing … and we can all use some of that …. ”

June 25 2019

Art at the Archives

young bearded man standing at easel with paint brushes and palette in left hand and 1 brush in right hand

Grafton Tyler Brown in his studio at the Occidental Hotel, corner of Wharf and Johnson street, Victoria B.C.,1883.

Grafton Tyler Brown is the first professional Black artist in the Pacific North west and in 1883 he was the first artist to hold an art exhibition in Victoria.

In March 2018 the Royal BC Museum and Friends of the BC Archives Society purchased one of Brown’s paintings “Giant’s Castle Mountain: A.L. Fortune’s Farm, Enderby BC” dated October 6, 1882.
This painting was displayed at the event along with other artifacts (photographs, documents) related to BC Black Pioneers. The BC Black History Awareness Society hosted the event in partnership with the Archives and the Friends of the BC Archives Society.  Why June 25th? It was June 25th, 1883 when Brown opened the one week art exhibit.  Find out more about Grafton Tyler Brown on this website.


May 4 2019

Mifflin Wistar Gibbs “Person of National Historic Significance”

Mifflin Gibbs Commemorative Plaque in Irving Park, Victoria

Mifflin Wistar Gibbs was honoured by the Government of Canada on August 4, 2009 with these words: “Our government is proud to honour a man who worked tirelessly for the local Black community as a politician, businessman, and defender of human rights.” A plaque was then commissioned by Canada’s Historic Sites and Monuments Board, and was presented to our Society in February 2017. Following some restoration/landscaping work in the park, the City of Victoria installed the plaque in January 2019. This unveiling ceremony took place on May 4, 2019.

Why Irving Park? Gibbs’ home and estate was situated at this location. It is believed the land was sold to Captain John Irving who then built another home there circa 1884; which was also demolished circa 1929. The City of Victoria then purchased this land and established “James Bay Park” in 1944. In 1981 it was re-named “Irving Park”.

Dr. Verna Gibbs, great-great grandniece travelled from San Francisco to attend this event.


Mifflin Wistar Gibbs 1823-1915
After helping lead the exodus of 800 Black residents from San Francisco in 1858, Gibbs became the recognized leader of their community on Vancouver Island. He strove to make these newcomers a force in colonial politics and, as a member of Victoria City Council; he became the first Black person to hold elected office in British Columbia. This innovative entrepreneur, who invested in mining and trade, also encouraged the integration of Black settlers and advocated for their rights. Though he returned to the United States in 1870, Gibbs remains a revered historical figure in the province’s African-Canadian community.

4 people stand behind bronze plaque that is resting on a table
Presentation of Mifflin Wistar Gibbs commemorative plaque to BC Black History Awareness Society and the City of Victoria, February 19, 2017