BC Black History Timeline

BC Black History Timeline

February 7 2014

Leon Bibb Plays at Government House, Victoria and it’s his 92nd birthday

man and woman standing together cutting birthday cake
February 7, 2014: BC Black History Awareness Society organized a Leon Bibb Concert at Government House, hosted by the Honourable Judith Guichon, OBC Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Leon was accompanied by his friend and pianist of 30 years, Bill Sample. The event was also a celebration of Leon’s 92nd Birthday.  “We did this fantastic show. It couldn’t have been better planned. We played in Victoria at Government House, just he and I. We were piped in no less and the Lieutenant-Governor introduced us and Leon sang his ass off in front of a huge crowd ...” Bill Sample, long-time friend, pianist, and music producer. Sadly, this event was also Bibb’s last public performance. More Image: Leon Bibb and The Honourable Judith Guichon cutting his birthday cake on February 7, 2014. Photographer: Beth Cruise, © BC Black History Awareness Society.
May 8 2014

May 8, 2014: Eleanor Collins is invested into the Order of Canada

Eleanor Collins - Order of Canada

The official citation reads: “Eleanor Collins, C.M. is a supremely talented vocalist who changed the face of race relations in mid-20th Century Vancouver. In 1948 she was ostracized upon moving into one of the city’s predominantly white neighbourhoods. She responded by fostering the values of equality and acceptance within her community —and consequently became a civic leader and pioneer in the development of British Columbia’s music industry. Celebrated for her extensive career as a jazz singer with CBC Radio and Television, she became the first Black artist in North America to host a nationally broadcast television series.”

The investment ceremony took place in Ottawa on November 21, 2014 the occasion of her 95th Birthday.

Image courtesy of Judith Maxie

November 15 2014

Toni Boot is the 1st Black women to be elected a Councillor in BC

Toni Boot served as a councillor in Summerland, BC for 4 years and was then elected mayor in 2018. She served as mayor for four years. She then ran again as a Councillor but was not successful.

January 1 2015

2015-2024: International Decade for People of African Descent

African Descent decade emblem

The themes are Recognition, Justice, and Development with the overall goal to promote and protect human rights. A UN Working Group at the invitation of the Canadian gov’t, visited Canada in 2016.

They met with federal and provincial government agencies including Global Affairs, Statistics Canada, Immigration, Public Safety, RCMP, National Defence, Correctional Services, and the Canadian Human Rights Commission as well as non-governmental organizations and academics.

Their report was published on August 16, 2017 and includes an Historical Overview of Canada, Demographics and 41 recommendationsThe report concluded: 
Despite Canada’s reputation for promoting multiculturalism and diversity and the positive measures taken by the national and provincial governments, the Working Group is deeply concerned about the structural racism that lies at the core of many Canadian institutions and the systemic anti-Black racism that continues to have a negative impact on the human rights situation of African-Canadians.”  

June 11 2017

June 11th is now Doug Hudlin Day in Victoria

plaque white text on very dark grey background
Doug Hudlin worked for the City of Victoria but his love was being on the field as an umpire.  He umpired generations of Island ball players over four decades. Remembered as the “Gentleman Umpire”, Doug was inducted into the Victoria Sports Hall of Fame in 1998, Umpires Association Hall of Fame in 2011 and was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Sports Hall of Fame 2 weeks after this day was declared. Doug was also a founding member of BC Black History Awareness Society.

The plaque was unveiled at Royal Athletic Park, Victoria on June 11, 2022


June 24 2017

June 24, 2017: Doug Hudlin is inducted, posthumously, into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

senior man standing in umpires uniform, baseball field in the background

Known as the “Gentleman Umpire”, Doug was inducted into the Victoria Sports Hall of Fame in 1998, Umpires Association Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Canadian Baseball Sports Hall of Fame in 2017; and he is a founding member of BC Black History Awareness Society. Read more about Doug

Image courtesy of Barbara Hudlin. James Douglas “Doug” Hudlin in 1988

October 20 2018

October 20, 2018: Toni Boot is elected as Mayor of Summerland; the first Black Mayor in British Columbia and Sharmarke Dubow is elected as Victoria City Councillor

TONI BOOT served as a Summerland Councillor for 4 years prior to her election as Mayor. She is a founder, owner, and operator of Oasis Lavenders Cooperative in Summerland, a communications specialist and has been active in the community for many years serving on various boards including Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen board, Okanagan Basin Water Board and Okanagan Similkameen Regional Hospital Board and Grasslands Conservation Council of B.C. and is a volunteer within the community. Summerland is a town on the west side of Okanagan Lake in the interior of British Columbia.

SHARMARKE DUBOW is a Somali Canadian politician and human rights advocate. He cast his first vote ever in an election in Canada on October 20, 2018 AND in that same municipal election, he was elected a City Councillor in Victoria, BC.  Meet Sharmarke

February 27 2019

Statistics Canada: “Diversity of the Black population in Canada: An Overview”. Release date: February 27, 2019

Using the 2016 census, Statistics Canada released the report “Diversity of the Black population in Canada: An Overview”.  Some findings:

• In 2016 close to 1.2 million people in Canada self-identified as Black.
• The Black population was younger than the total population in Canada. The median age for the Black population was 29.6 years, while it was 40.7 years for the total population.
• More than four in ten Black people were born in Canada; we come from more than 170 different places of birth, and more than 200 ethnic or cultural origins.
• British Columbia: is growing, but at a slower pace compared to neighbouring provinces.


May 25 2020

May 25, 2020: George Floyd is killed by Minneapolis police

Almost a year later, on April 20, 2021 Derek Chauvin is found guilty on all three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter; and sentenced to 22.5 years.

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.

May 14 2021

May 14, 2021: Retired Judge Selwyn Romilly is falsely arrested by Vancouver police

On May 14, 2021 retired Judge Selwyn Romilly was stopped and handcuffed by Vancouver Police while out for a morning walk along Vancouver’s seawall. The officers told Judge Romilly he matched the description of “the suspect” … the suspect was described as a 40-50-year-old dark-skinned man; Judge Romilly is in his 80s.

  • 47 years earlier ….On October 12, 1974 his brother, Valmond Romilly, at the time a lawyer, was stopped on Granville Street and detained by three Vancouver city policeman – another case of “mistaken identity”
August 14 2021

August 14, 2021: “Hope Meets Action: Echoes through The Black Continuum”

open space with 6-foot high, self-standing, information panels supported and connected by rigid metal frames

BC Black History Awareness Society in partnership with the Royal BC Museum opened this exhibition on August 14, 2021. Hope Meets Action: Echoes Through the Black Continuum, the story of Afro-diasporic ‘British Columbia’ history, past, present and future.  Written, told and designed by Black voices, this exhibition reclaims and retells the complicated history of stolen people on stolen land, and how the contributions of Black leaders echo across the centuries into the present; a history that has long been whitewashed in the annals of colonial history.

The exhibition was open at the museum on the first floor until March 31, 2022. It is now featured in the RBCM Learning Portal.

About the project


January 21 2022

Canada Heritage Stamp Honours Eleanor Collins

Eleanor Collins Commemorative Stamp issued Jan 21-2022

“Canada’s First Lady of Jazz” She has fostered the values of equality and acceptance; is recognized as a civic leader and pioneer in the development of British Columbia’s music industry. She is celebrated for her extensive career as a jazz singer; one of the first Black artists in North America to host a national, weekly television series. Read more of her unparalleled story

July 9 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers National Apology to the descendants of the No. 2 Construction Battalion, CEF

On July 9, 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered a National Apology to the No. 2 Construction Battalion and their Descendants, acknowledging the overt racism they had endured.

Some excerpts from the Apology –

Hundreds of young Black men wanted to serve their country and protect the freedom we hold dear. They wanted to fight with honour against tyranny and oppression, but almost every single Black volunteer was denied the honour of serving their country”;

 This is what systemic racism and anti-Black hate does: it suppresses the truth; it tries to rewrite history under false narratives;

 For the overt racism of turning Black volunteers away when they offered to sacrifice their lives for all, we are sorry;

 For failing to honour and commemorate the contributions of the members of No. 2 Construction Battalion and their descendants, for the blatant anti-Black hate and systemic racism that denied these men dignity in life and in death, we are sorry.;

 And to their descendants, we hope you see yourselves as you are: heirs to the memory of true Canadian heroes.”

Read/watch the full apology