BC Black History Awareness Society (BCBHAS)

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots” - Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr.

 s stark 1  s charles3  Sir James Douglas

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Spotlight on: Black History and Culture - Speaker Series

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Since 1994 the BC Black History Awareness Society has been working with cultural organizations, libraries, K-12 schools, post-secondary institutions, community groups and governments to tell compelling stories and experiences, providing forums for awareness and understanding, through a variety of speakers that appeal to a broad audience throughout the year.   

The Society generally hosts a speaker event 4 times each year in February, April, June and October.   The speaker events are by donation, you do not need to pre-register.

Next Speaker

Sunday, June 24th at 2:00 pm. ANNIE DJIOTSA

"True Black Strong and Free - Becoming Black in Canada"


Can we grow new roots?  If yes, can they ever be rooted enough to carry us through our journey?

Annie Djiotsa was born in Cameroon.  She has been living in Canada for over 25 years.  She has been working as an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces for nearly 20 years. Annie will share her story - a story of darkness and light. A story of peace and war. Mostly a story of strength, love, and hope.

Cook Street Village Activity Centre - 380 Cook Street

By Donation.  Everyone is welcome. 

Previous Speakers:  This is a sample of speakers we have hosted.

Greater Victoria Police and local ethno-cultures.

Michael Regis shared his graduate work on local police and local ethno-cultures of African-Caribbean, Indigenous, Muslim and Chinese communities. Michael holds a Masters in Dispute Resolution, University of Victoria. His research with the Greater Victoria Police Diversity Advisory Committee (GVPDAC) and Victoria ethno-cultural communities was engaging and thought-provoking. The presentation included key points of the negative and positive experiences and perceptions with the police and community concerns, vulnerabilities, and recommendations for the Greater Victoria Police in trust-building best practices. The report “Policing in Greater Victoria: A Study in Addressing the Gaps in Engaging Greater Victoria's Diverse Communities (2017)” can be found on the GVPDAC website in the section Resources, Tools and Links.


The Perspectives and Experiences of 2 visible minority Police Officers.

2 police officers from Oak Bay Police Department with combined experience of more than 25 years. Both officers have experience in various departments within the police force such as School Resource Officer, Community Liaison Officer and Homicide investigations as well as the RCMP. Both officers attend the Greater Victoria Diversity Committee as Oak Bay departmental representatives.  

Cultural Competency for Volunteers workshop.

This workshop led by Sylvia Mangue, BCBHAS Member, focuses on the management of social interactions with diverse people in everyday life.   As a human resources specialist, Sylvia seeks to create models of diversity in the area of human resources that can be used by organizations seeking a more just and equitable workplace.   

Climate Change, Racism - What's the Connection?

With slides and conversation, Beth Cruise, BCBHAS Member presented her trip to the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris as a delegate with the non-profit organization ‘Sustaining All Life’.  This organization, to which Beth has been a member for 20 years, presented thirty-two workshops, forums, listening projects and caucuses there.  She will talk about the people and the work of ‘Sustaining All Life’, perspectives and tools on eliminating racism and racism’s connection to climate change.  

Did You Say “Black” British Columbia? The Politics of Absent Presence between the Black Pioneers and Present Day African Refugees.

Handel Kashope Wright, Professor and Director of the Centre for Culture, Identity and Education, University of British Columbia.


Songs and Stories ‘bout Slavery and the Underground Railroad (UGGR).

Singer, song-writer Lonnie Glass. Lonnie’s two passions of music and history were ignited when he toured the southern United States in the 1980s. He has an insatiable appetite for history — it was only a matter of time before he combined his passion for music with his historical knowledge.  Lonnie has played in bands, sang in bands and began writing songs in the late 80’s.  He’s toured Canada and the U.S. and has recorded several CD’S in several genres from folk to blues. 


The Mystery of Grafton Tyler Brown: Race, Art and Landscape in 19th Century British Columbia.

Presented by UVIC History Department Chair John Lutz, writer and art historian.  Grafton Tyler Brown was a cartographer, lithographer, and painter and is considered the first professional Black artist, working and living at the time largely in the Pacific North West as well as British Columbia and California.  Dr. Lutz will talk about the life of Brown and present examples of his work.


The History of Jamaica and its relationship with Canada.

Dr. Michael Vaughan, the Honorary Consul of Jamaica giving an informative and entertaining presentation about the History of Jamaica and its long relationship with Canada. The presentation includes information about a number of Jamaica’s most prominent citizens, past and present, including Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley, and Usain Bolt. 

Building Bridges through Art.

Michelle Jacques, Chief Curator of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria to present about her past projects in Toronto and her future plans here in Victoria.        


“You Had Better Be White by Six AM.” 

Sgt. Craig Smith, RCMP Officer from Nova Scotia, who has been a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) since 1997.  However, he is best known as an author and for his activities on behalf of youth and Black history.


Notable Black Women in Canadian History.

In celebration of Women's History Month in Canada, local historian and writer Merna Forster will give a presentation on notable Black women in Canadian history. She will share stories and images of some of the Black women featured in her books, from the first female police officer in North America to the first woman to found, publish and edit a newspaper in Canada.   


Blacks Today – History in the Making.

Moussa Magassa, Human Rights Education Advisor from the University of Victoria.  


Growing up in the South Sudan.

William Goldiet, President of the African Heritage Association of Vancouver Island (AHAVI), sharing his story from growing up in South Sudan, to becoming a refugee and coming to Canada.  

African-Canadian History.

Janie Cooper-Wilson, artist, author and speaker on African-Canadian history. She has been featured in made-for-television documentaries such as, Bloodlines: Famous Last Words and Raise the Spirit; written two full-length historical publications; a regular contributor to the Northern Terminus African-Canadian Journal.

“Son of Africville”. 

Actor/play-writer Justin Carter performs his one-man show “Son of Africville”, an autobiographical story of his reunion with his mother in Africville, Nova Scotia.   


“Go Do Some Great Thing”.

Crawford Kilian, author of the book “Go Do Some Great Thing”, the story of BC's Black pioneers.       

Presentations by Society Members:  There are members of our Society who present to community groups, schools and public events from time-to-time.  If you would like to learn more about these presentations for your class or group and availability, please contact us.