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We can all learn during Black History Month

Roughly 1.6 million Canadians identify as Black, which now represents 4.3% of the country’s total population, and a community which doubled in size between 1996 and 2016. In Manitoba, more than 30,000 people identify as Black, a relatively small, but growing, diverse community of people.

February 2024 is #blackhistorymonth in Canada, recognized by the House of Commons in December 1995 following a motion introduced by Dr. Jean Augustine, the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament. Then, in February 2008, Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black man appointed to the Senate, introduced the Motion to Recognize Contributions of Black Canadians and February as Black History Month.

Here are a few ways to learn about Black Canadians’ experiences and their contributions to the fabric of our country and province:

1) Follow Canadian Heritage or visit their website to learn about Black History Month trailblazers, like Liberal Member of Parliament, Mr. Greg Fergus, who represents the Quebec riding of Hull-Aylmer near Ottawa, and is the first Black Canadian elected Speaker of the House of Commons. Or read about Senator Bernadette Clement, a legal aid lawyer and the first Black Canadian woman to serve as a mayor in Ontario.

Widny Pervil, St. Boniface Hospital Spiritual Care Provider and MAHCP Member Advocate, recently travelled with our Senior Labour Relations Officer, Poonam Randhawa, to attend an anti-racism conference. Widny had the opportunity to meet Senator Clement.

“I learned of Mr. Fergus’ election while in conversation with Minister Clement. We heard the bell together while discussing ways to improve the lives of minorities. They announced Mr. Fergus as the Speaker of the House. How memorable and meaningful is that to have shared that historical moment with her?”

2) Black History Manitoba publishes a calendar of events: https://www.bhmwinnipeg.com/upcoming-events

3) View stories of Black Manitobans working in the health-care system on the Sharedhealthmb website. Or, nominate a Black colleague or someone you know who goes above and beyond to care for others and support their team. https://sharedhealthmb.ca/…/community/black-history-month/

4) Read a snapshot report highlighting how anti-Black racism and systemic discrimination are key drivers of health inequalities faced by diverse Black Canadian communities. Today, the province of Manitoba is engaged in the voluntary, self-declared collection of ethnic data related to healthcare system usage, with a goal to better understand the health care experiences of BIPOC individuals and address inequalities: https://www.canada.ca/…/social-determinants-inequities…

5) Read an overview of the diversity of Black Canadians: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/…/89-657-x2019002-eng.htm

Special thanks to Widny for sharing his thoughts and experiences, and for lending expertise to the review of our content!


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