February is one of my favourite months because, as a young black Canadian woman, I get to look over the most influential Black Canadians in our history. I strongly believe that my generation, and future generations, should look at the influential individuals that shaped our society into what it is today. There are many black Canadians that make me proud to be a Canadian and I am here to tell you about some of the most important black women in Canadian history
Photo via JeanAugustine.ca
Jean Augustine is a politician, social activist and an educator. She was the first ever African Canadian woman to be elected into the House of Commons, first ever African-Canadian woman to be appointed to the Federal Cabinet and the first Fairness Commissioner of the Government of Ontario. She has inspiring to me because, as a black Canadian woman, she made it possible for Canada to officially recognize February as Black History Month in 1995. She is the reason why black Canadians are getting acknowledge for their strong contributions to our history.
Photo via Lifechoes.wordpress.com
London, Ontario born Foluke Akinradewo is a 6’3 volleyball player who played at Stanford University. From 2010-2019, she played for multiple international volleyball teams such as the Hisamitsu Springs, who she is currently playing for. As a Nigerian, she is a public figure for many Nigerian youths and opened many opportunities for other young Nigerian female athletes. As a former athlete and fellow Nigerian, Foluke showed me that young Nigerian athletes could make it anywhere. No matter what sport you’re playing, she is one of the many Nigerian athletes who paved a way for future generations.
Photo via The Canadian Encyclopedia
Ms. Viola Desmond is whom I like to call the Rosa Parks of Canada. Desmond was a civil rights activist born in 1914 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Viola challenged racial discrimination when she refused to leave the segregated whites-only section in a New Glasgow, Nova Scotia theatre. She was arrested and was pardoned in 2010 by Lieutenant Governor Mayann Francis. The most important characteristic that I saw in Viola was that she was never afraid. She was not afraid of what might have happened to her. I believe that she inspired me to not be afraid to be different. Not to be afraid to stand up for yourself no matter how intimating the situation is.
Photo via Heroines.ca
Rosemary Brown is the first ever African-Canadian to be a member of a Canadian Parliamentary body. She was elected in the Provincial Legislature of British Columbia in 1972. As a feminist she worked throughout her life to promote equality and human rights. She fought to eliminate sexism in textbooks, increase female representations on boards and prohibit discrimination based on sex or marital status. I believe she is one of the public figures that expressed how important it is to acknowledge female accomplishments.
It’s inspiring how these women, along with many, could make this much history. It is amazing to think how different our country would be if we did not have the courageous black men and women that we have to fight for equality and to motivate young Canadians to not be afraid. I encourage you to look into the history of Canada if you have not already and learn more about these individuals.
Photo via Matheus Natan