Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

February 01, 2007 13:40 ET



Attention: Assignment Editor, Media Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 1, 2007) - In December 1995, the parliament of Canada officially recognized February as Black History Month following a motion introduced by the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament, the Honourable Jean Augustine, M.P. of Etobicoke-Lakeshore.

The history of Black History Month dates back to the 1950s when the Canadian Negro Women's Association brought the Black History celebration to Toronto, Ontario. By 1978 the Ontario Black History Society successfully petitioned the City of Toronto to have the February celebration formally recognized. This month-long celebration is extremely important to people of African heritage. Every year Canadians are invited to take part in the events that honour the legacy of Black Canadians, past and present.

This is a time for all Ontarians to celebrate and recognize the many accomplishments and contributions of Black Canadians, who, throughout history have done so much to make Canada the culturally diverse, inclusive and prosperous nation we know today. The celebration and events this month give all Canadians a chance to learn and appreciate the experiences of Black Canadians in our society and the vital role this community has played throughout our shared history.

An ongoing traveling exhibit by the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre (WAHC) in Hamilton documents and recognizes the contributions of Black activists to the labour movement.

"… and still I rise": A History of African Canadian Workers in Ontario, 1900 to Present
This project is the fascinating yet little told story of the lives and experiences of African Canadians. The exhibit can be used as an educational tool for students in grades eight to ten to learn about the culture, struggles and achievements of Ontario's Black community. The two-hour interactive exhibit can be booked for communities across the province by contacting the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre. (http://www.wahc-museum.ca/)

Recognition of Black workers as part of our history is important. The labour movement today continues to be instrumental in the fight for human rights and equality for all workers. Labour's struggle for human rights, inclusion and equity would not have been as effective without the tenacious and persistent advocacy and lobbying of Black workers.

Black History month celebrations give the OFL and its affiliated unions a chance to acknowledge the contributions of its Black members and members of African heritage to our unions, communities - nationally and globally.

"This month is an opportunity to highlight the importance of building and strengthening our membership solidarity, the fight for anti-racism and social and economic justice," said OFL Executive Vice-President Terry Downey. Downey is the first African-Canadian officer to be elected to the Executive of the Federation.

cope343 /For further information: Terry Downey
OFL Executive Vice-President
416.578.3230 (cellular)

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre
905.522.3003 Ext 22/ IN: LABOUR, MEDIA, POLITICS, OTHER

Contact Information

  • Dana Boettger, OFL Communications
    Primary Phone: 416-441-2731 ext. 665
    Secondary Phone: 416-443-7665
    Toll-Free: 800-668-9138