Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

September 20, 2010 13:00 ET

Minister Kenney Hails Premiere of New Play, "The African Rifles"

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 20, 2010) - The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, issued the following statement:

"Today marks the première of an important play about a black militia unit that was formed in 1860 to defend Vancouver Island Colony from American attack. The African Rifles tells the story of the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Company, a military unit formed by Sir James Douglas. The first Governor of British Columbia, Douglas was born in British Guiana of mixed African and European heritage.

"The Victoria Pioneer Rifle Company was made up entirely of enthusiastic black volunteers, with training provided by the Royal Navy. It was the first military unit formed in British Columbia and, although based in Victoria, the majority of its members came from Saltspring Island. The famous camaraderie of the unit enhanced the pride and social cohesion of their community.

"The playwright, Anthony Sherwood, is one of Canada's most successful black actors and documentary filmmakers. The play features Vancouver actors Clive Williams and Errol Jones, and was directed by Don Matthews.

"I am proud to see cultural works, such as this play, promoting greater understanding of Canada's history, values, and symbols to newcomers and Canadian citizens alike.

"The Government of Canada values the contributions that all communities make to our social, civic, and economic fabric and we support the active engagement and participation of all communities in our society. Every year, we invite Canadians to participate in Black History Month, to honour the legacy of black Canadians, past and present. 

"As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I commend Mr. Sherwood, his colleagues and the participating schools for helping young people learn how Canadians of all origins and backgrounds have helped to protect and build Canada."

Contact Information

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Minister's Office
    Celyeste Power
    Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Communications Branch
    Media Relations