Thursday, February 9, 2023

Learn about BC Black History this February

City of Colour: Rediscovering Stories of Victoria’s Multicultural Past.”

February is Black History Month. My public education occurred in the 1990s. 1990s curriculum about local history was limited and focused on how the British and others from Europeans ended up in British Columbia. I’ve learned more about our province’s nuanced and colourful history as an adult, and there is a lot of that history.

One book that I’ve read recently is May Q. Wong’s “City of Colour: Rediscovering Stories of Victoria’s Multicultural Past.”

In the chapter “Victoria’s Colourful Policing History,” Wong tells the story of the Victoria Pioneer Rifles, an all-Black militia that operated from 1859 to 1864. The group was the only line of defence from the gold-rushed crazed Americans at the time.

Wong also tells the story of Mifflin Wistar Gibbs, a businessman who, in 1866, because the first Black person elected in British Columbia, serving two terms on Victoria city council.

“City of Colour” is a must-read if you are interested in our province’s history.

Knowing about BC’s diverse history is essential because it shows that settlers from many different parts of the world have contributed to this place. It is important that people can see themselves in our history. It helps people feel strongly connected to our shared history and the right to belong. It has certainly been important for me as a biracial Black person. I no longer feel like an outsider.

Another great resource to learn about Black BC history is the BC Black History Awareness Society website.

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