February is Black History Month

Cover image: Hogan’s Alley, Vancouver. Vancouver archives.

February is Black History Month. We invite you to join us to celebrate, explore, and reflect on the histories and contributions of our Black community.

Within our organization, we draw on the perspectives of people from diverse cultural backgrounds to (re)imagine a future economy and reality rooted in joy, justice, equity, and love. We aim to foster a place of belonging and learning where Black entrepreneurs, activists, and learners can thrive and drive the change they know is needed in their communities. We believe the path forward must be shaped by the ideas of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Colour who have been historically and persistently pushed to the margins in our society.

While Black History Month has only been recognized in Canada since 1979, Black people’s contributions have been a critical part of Canadian history. The Colored Conventions, as one example, was a movement starting in the 1830s by Black organizers, educators, entrepreneurs, church leaders, and writers—as well as many undocumented members—in response to discrimination and exclusionary laws in the U.S. Over 200 gatherings over seven decades took place to organize and strategize for racial justice. Through her participation in the conventions, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Canada’s first woman publisher, is remembered for her activism and journalism in the Canadian newspaper she established in Ontario, The Provincial Freeman. Through her work, she advanced the causes of racial equity, Black nationalism, emigration to Canada, self-education, and Black women’s political and economic empowerment.

Illustration by Dorcas Markwei (of Lynsow Creative), a Black-Canadian illustrator and designer.

The systems we live under—White supremacy, colonialism, capitalism—have and continue to exploit, erase, and harm the lives and lived experiences of Black people. The evidence is all around us if you look. In Vancouver, Hogan’s Alley was a thriving Black neighbourhood, part of the ethnically diverse East End, centred between Prior and Union and Main and Jackson until the 1960s. The neighbourhood was targeted for “urban renewal” and rezoning, which made it difficult for the Black population to obtain mortgages or make home improvements. Newspapers ran stories about the neighbourhood being a slum and centre for crime. Homes, community institutions, and buildings were demolished to build the Georgia viaduct, and the City seized the western end of Hogan’s Alley. Since its demise, no identifiably Black neighbourhood has emerged in Vancouver.

Organizations like Hogan’s Alley Society and BC Black History Awareness Society are creating awareness of the history of Black communities in B.C., celebrating their achievements, and advancing their social, political, economic, and cultural well-being through their operations, programming, and education.

224 Union Street, a street in Hogan's Alley, 1968, in Vancouver B.C. City of Vancouver Archives.

Dismantling harmful systems and (re)building new ones requires generations of work and begins with recognizing the biases that exist on personal, institutional, and systemic levels. It also necessitates making space for stories about Black joy, solidarity, resilience, celebration, and liberation.

We compiled a list of resources as a starting point to spark curiosity and to participate in the learning and celebratory events led by our Black community. We hope you will take this opportunity to engage deeply with yourself and the community this month and beyond. 

RADIUS Reads: Book Recommendations from our Staff

Black-led Organizations We Admire

Social Purpose Organizations from the RADIUS & Community Foundations of Canada Investment Readiness Program

RADIUS worked alongside 24 Social Purpose Organizations in 2023 to support their financing journeys. Below are some of the Black-led and Black-serving organizations: 

  • Accent Distributors – part of PlanIt! Efficiency Solutions Inc. a boutique consultancy in southern Ontario that provides advice and business management process services to professional service providers and start-ups who want to build efficient, sustainable, scalable, profitable businesses while maintaining balance in their personal lives.

  • Althea Therapy – a digital platform to get access to culturally responsive mental health professionals and online learning experiences. They have two main support pathways: an app to connect with Black, Indigenous and racialized therapists and their signature Reclaim Program to learn culturally responsive tools to reduce stress and anxiety paired with live mental health support. Our goal is to destigmatize therapy and to reduce racial mental health disparities across the country.

  • Commehomme Social Services – a not-for-profit organization in Ontario, with a mission to empower and contribute to improving the mental and social well-being of residents of the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, focusing on those who identify as Black.

  • Foodpreneur Lab – a Canadian Black woman founded and led non-profit with a fierce national mandate to advance racial and gender equity by levelling the playing field for Canadian entrepreneurs in the food ecosystem.

  • Hello Hair – a movement devoted to nurturing self-love in every child by celebrating their beautiful crown. Their mission is to redefine the global Black hair experience, leading a new era of authenticity and confidence. As advocates for natural hair education, Hello Hair is the go-to source for empowering generations with knowledge, representation, and pride.

  • Kiddienomics – an innovative educational initiative empowering young children with financial literacy skills. They aim to lay the foundation for sound financial decision-making through engaging, age-appropriate content, fostering a generation of informed, responsible adults.

  • Rittenhouse – their initiative is to create a social purpose enterprise of facilitators delivering public education and workshops to community organizations around transformative justice, conflict resolution, and alternatives to calling police or barring clients from services and resources. Rittenhouse is a small grassroots organization staffed by people with lived experience delivering facilitation and supporting prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families. This initiative provides paid training in transformative justice facilitation to nine people with lived experience of incarceration with aims of creating decent, meaningful work opportunities for the participants.

  • We Care Foundation – a non-profit public foundation in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It is established for humanitarian purposes, including advancing education, relieving poverty, increasing employability, providing counselling support, and promoting businesses for newcomers, immigrants, Blacks and other racialized people. They also address gender-based violence and promote antiracism, diversity, equity, inclusion, intercultural understanding and immigrant integration.

  • Women’s Multicultural Resource & Counselling Centre – a registered charitable organization in Durham, Ontario, dedicated to providing specialized counselling and support to women of all ages and their families from diverse backgrounds to eradicate violence, rebuild their lives, and enable them to become contributing and valued members of society.

Program Advisors:

Learn more about our work with the Investment Readiness Program here, and stay tuned for an upcoming story where we highlight participants and reflect on the program.

Events to Attend

Are you a community group planning a Black History Month event?
Connect with us to have your event added to this page or amplified on social media community@radiussfu.com