Photo: (Wikimedia Commons)


During Black History Month, we celebrate and recognize the achievements of Black Canadians who have helped to shape our country.  Carter G. Woodson, a scholar often referred to as the father of Black History, lobbied for that the history of African Americans be remembered, so that they would not be forgotten and their relevance to society lost,  introduced Black History week in 1926.  Eventually, it was extended to the month of February, marking the shared birth month of Abraham Lincoln and the abolitionist Fredrick Douglas.

In Canada, Black History Month was first introduced by the Ontario Black History Society, and brought into legislation by one of the first Black Canadian women elected to the House of Commons, Jean Augustine, in 1996.  In 2008, Black History month was first introduced as a motion by Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black Canadian man appointed to the Senate, and February was officially recognized as a month to celebrate the contribution of black Canadians.

We would like to take this moment to celebrate the various Black Canadian athletes who have help shape Canada both on and off the field of play. 


Established in 1895, during a time when Blacks were prohibited from participating in Canadian sports club, the Coloured Hockey League was formed.  The historical community of Africville, Nova Scotia was a settlement for Blacks, anchored in a legacy of many who had escaped slavery.  It would be their sons and grandsons who would go onto form the Coloured Hockey League.  Initially a church league, the all Black hockey league promoted athleticism over physical force. This gave rise to the birth of the slapshot, which is often credited to Bernie 'Boom Boom' Geoffrion who demonstrated this skill 30 years later.  In fact, it was Eddie Martin, a Black player in the Coloured Hockey League who was first cited as inventing it, becoming a regular practice by other players in the league.  Similarly, the Coloured Hockey League also saw the role of the goaltender pioneered - from leaving the net, to stopping the puck by dropping to his knees, and standing up in net.  For these athletes, the game symbolized the chance for social mobility, competing against white teams while demonstrating the lauded characteristics associated with sporting individuals.  While, the innovation and athleticism displayed in this league has yet to be acknowledged in the Hockey Hall of Fame, their influence on the modern game of hockey is undeniable.

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Awards and Recognition

  • Commemorative stamp, Canada Post, 2020


Dr. Nicole Forrester
Olympian, Commonwealth Games Champion & 8-Time Canadian Champion

Black history in Canada
(From the Government of Canada website)

People of African descent have been a part of shaping Canada’s heritage and identity since the arrival of Mathieu Da Costa, a navigator and interpreter, whose presence in Canada dates back to the early 1600s.

The role of Blacks in Canada has not always been viewed as a key feature in Canada’s historic landscape.

There is little mention that some of the Loyalists who came here after the American Revolution and settled in the Maritimes were Blacks, or of the many sacrifices made in wartime by Black Canadian soldiers as far back as the War of 1812.

Few Canadians are aware of the fact that African people were once enslaved in the territory that is now Canada, or of how those who fought enslavement helped to lay the foundation of Canada’s diverse and inclusive society.

Black History Month is a time to learn more about these Canadian stories and the many other important contributions of Black Canadians to the settlement, growth and development of Canada, and about the diversity of Black communities in Canada and their importance to the history of this country.