Influencing the Vision of Canada

Partnering with Digital Museums Canada provides a unique opportunity to further imprint the stories of these pioneers in a lasting way that reaches beyond the boundaries of our provincial neighborhoods and re-affirms the significance of these pioneers in Canadian History for all Canadians.

The BC Black History Awareness Society signed a Community Stories Agreement with Canadian Museum of History as part of a Federal Government investment program that enables community organizations to develop bilingual online community-focused exhibits to share with all Canadians. The exhibit British Columbia’s Black Pioneers influenced the Vision of Canada features 20 stories, 9 videos and 86 gallery items that include images, photographs, maps, and archival documents; all are bilingual.

Digital Museums Canada logo

With more than 500 exhibits Digital Museums Canada (DMC) is the largest source of online content and experiences shared by large and small Canadian museums and heritage organizations. These online exhibits explore history, culture, science and the arts, and feature fascinating stories and treasures from communities across the country.”

Before we decided to submit a proposal, we were aware that the project would take a minimum of sixteen months. The project proceeded in four phases; Preliminary Submission, English language Submission, French language Submission, Final Submission for both languages. All the videos were shot during the English language submission phase, summer/fall 2019. This was necessary in order to have them ready for translation. A quality assurance review was conducted by DMC after each phase.

We are grateful to the following individuals and organizations that helped make this exhibit a reality with their unwavering dedication, expertise, talent, and resourcefulness.
City of Victoria
Greater Victoria Public Library – view the library exhibit
HERE Magazine – read the article
ITI International Technologies Inc.
Old Cemeteries Society (OCS)
Dr. John Lutz, Chair of the History Department, University of Victoria
Videography and Photography
Producer, Videographer, Photographer and Editor: John-Evan Snow (FotoVie)
Audio Recordist: Jeff Leung, Mohit Verma
Video Editor: Sandy Rossignol, Sandy Warhol
Website Technical Specialist and Support – Crystal Sherrah, ITI
Salt Spring Island Archives Research by SSI Archives Volunteers – Ceridwen Ross Collins, Christina Marshall, Usha Rautenbach, Elsie Mountford and Emma Bishop. Special thanks to Judy Sims for her memories of the Estes-Stark Collection.
John Adams, Discover the Past Walking Tours
Fiona Bramble, HERE Magazine
Gerry Buydens, Old Cemeteries Society
Linda Carlson and Davyd McMinn, Dandridge House Video
Bertha Clarke aka Adelene Da Soul Poet
Kevin Creamore, Photography
Sherry Edmunds-Flett, Research, Historian
Barbara Hudlin, Doug Hudlin story
Crawford Kilian, Author
Dr. John Lutz, Chair of the History Department, University of Victoria
Sarah Rathjen, City of Victoria Archives
Linda Richards, Old Cemeteries Society
Shayli Robinson, Photography
Peter Schildwächter, Photography
MOSAIC Interpretation and Translation Services. All the content for the exhibit is in both official languages including stories, gallery item descriptions, alternative (alt) text, descriptive transcripts for audio and video, and closed captions for video.
Barkerville Historic Town & Park Archives
British Colonist Archives
City of Vancouver Archives
City of Victoria Archives
Oberlin College Archives
Royal BC Museum and Archives
Salt Spring Island Archives
University of British Columbia Archives
University of Victoria Archives
BC Black History Awareness Society Project Team
Project Manager, Lead Writer, Research: Fran Morrison
Lead Advisor, Writer, Editor: Mavis DeGirolamo
Sponsorship: Silvia Mangue
Treasurer and Legal Advisor: Paul Schachter, J.D.
Graphic Design, Photography: Beth Cruise, Tracy Guinchard
Video Content/Speakers: Youth: Khumalo, Nandi, Selina, Tanya; Karen Hoshal, Mandeep Kaur Muchina, Ron Nicholson

The story and history of the Black pioneers is an important part of understanding Canada’s multicultural society. Canadians are generally taught that Black people came to Canada to seek relief from the oppression of slavery or, more recently, from repressive socio-economic conditions in their home countries.

This story helps round out the picture of Canada by showing how this group of about 800 invited settlers contributed to the richness of the developing society in the west and were an integral part of its early formation. This results in better outcomes for understanding the advantages of multiculturalism today.

On June 11, 2022 the unveiling ceremony took place for this montage installed in the Mifflin Wistar Gibbs Study Room at the sxʷeŋxʷəŋ təŋəxʷ James Bay Branch, Greater Victoria Public Library.

montage with text and portrait images, 1858 street scene in background

Yates Street was the business hub in Victoria in the 1850’s. Mary (nee Lowe) Barnswell (1853-1947), grew up in Victoria, wife, mother, community leader; Samuel Booth (1826-1917), business man, prospector; Mifflin Wistar Gibbs (1823-1915), entrepreneur, politician, judge; Fielding William Spotts Jr. (1857-1937) grew up in Saanich, then resident and business man in Hogan’s Alley, Strathcona, Vancouver. All images courtesy of Royal BC Museum and Archives. Graphic Designer: Susie Jones, Greater Victoria Public Library

British Columbia Black Pioneers: Influencing the Vision of Canada