This February is Black History Month and we’ve compiled a list of movies, documentaries, books and podcasts to help you engage with and learn about the diversity of Black lives and history in BC and Canada. Explore the selection below, and consider what might you add to your play – or reading – list this month.
Movies, Shows, and Documentaries
Ninth Floor (2015)
Protagonists of the 1969 Sir George Williams University protest reflect on their experience and this critical moment in Canada’s history of race-relations. In response to the mishandling of racism accusations by the Montreal university, a group of Caribbean students occupy a ninth-floor of the institution in protest.
Black Soul (2005)
An animated short by Haitian-Canadian film-maker Martine Chartrand that explores defining moments in Black history and culture. Watch as a young boy gets immersed in his grandmother’s storytelling that traces their roots.
Everybody’s Children (2008)
Everybody’s Children shares the experiences of two teenage refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone as they navigate settling in and adapting to their new life in Ontario and deal with the complexities and challenges of the refugee application process.
Home Feeling: A Struggle For Community (1983)
An exploration of systemic racism and deep-seated tensions between the police and Black community in the Jane-Finch area of Toronto.
Journey to Justice (2000)
A tribute to Canada’s unsung heroes in their quest for Black civil rights and racial justice. The movies shares the story of six Black activists during the period of 1930 to 1950, including Viola Desmond and Fred Christie.
Unarmed Verses (2016)
In the middle of a low-income community facing revitalization and relocation, a 12-year old Black girl searches for belonging and self-expression through the power of art.
We Are the Roots: Black Settlers and their Experiences of Discrimination on the Canadian Prairies (2018)
We Are the Roots tells the stories of Black immigrants who came up from the United States to settle in Alberta and Saskatchewan in the early 1900s to escape slavery and racism – but ended up facing discrimination in both Edmonton and in the rural communities. 19 descendants of original settlers reflect on their histories.
Secret Alberta: the Former Life of Amber Valley (2017)
Winner of the 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Excellence in Digital Storytelling tells the story of one of the first all-Black settlements in Canada.
Black Strathcona: Hogan’s Alley (2017)
Hear stories that celebrate the people and places of Hogan’s Alley. Did you know Jimi Hendrix spent time in Strathcona with his grandmother Nora Hendrix in 1940s? And that Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, and Sammie Davis Jr. frequented Vie’s Chicken & Steaks – a soul food haven on Union Street where Nora worked?
Secret Vancouver: Return to Hogan’s Alley (2016), Storyhive via YouTube
The 16-minute documentary takes a look back on how this hotbed of historic jazz was nearly forgotten by time and erased by urban renewal and the viaducts. It’s a must-watch for anyone interested in the rich history of Vancouver.
Decolonizing Post-Secondary Classrooms for Rockstar Learners
Sisters in Struggle
Fat and Black with The Audacity to be Badass
Nancy’s Workshop, CBC (Free to stream)
With a rich selection of classic and contemporary, poetry and prose books written by celebrated Black authors available in store or at your local library, there are countless options that are sure to satisfy every kind of reader. Here are a few gems that you should definitely add to your to-read pile.
- The Promised Land: History and Historiography of the Black Experience in Chatham-Kent’s Settlements and Beyond, Ebanda de B’Beri , Reid-Maroney and Handel K. Wright
- We’re Rooted Here and They Can’t Pull Us Up: Essays in African-Canadian Women’s History, Peggy Bristow
- The Skin We’re In, Desmond Cole
- Until We Are Free, Rodney Diverlus, Sandy Hudson, Syrus Marcus Ware
- Angry Queer Somali Boy, Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali
- Queer Returns, Rinaldo Walcott
- They Said This Would Be Fun, Eternity Martis
- Go Do Some Great Thing, Crawford Kilian
- A Man Called Moses, Bill Gallaher
- Dear Current Occupant: A Memoir, Chelene Knight
- Talking to Strangers, Malcolm Gladwell
- I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You, David Chariandy
The following is a series of vignettes spotlighting some of the Black Canadians that have marked the country’s past, as well as those that are marking Canada’s present.
The Secret Life of Canada
A podcast that talks about people, places and events that your high school history class might’ve skipped over. Co-hosted by Leah Simone-Bowen and Falen Johnson, a first generation Black Canadian and Mohawk and Tuscarora from Six Nations.
Do you know what it’s like to be Black in Canada? Torontonians Dalton Higgins and Melayna Williams talk about important issues relevant to the Black community in our country and around the world.