February 16, 2016
Province Celebrating Diverse Heritage
Ontario passed legislation today to formally recognize February as Black History Month on an annual basis.
The legislation — which received support from all parties — gives Black History Month official status in law, ensuring that the uniqueness, vitality and continuing contributions of the Black community in Ontario will be celebrated for generations to come.
Ontario first proclaimed February as Black History Month in 1993 to mark the 200th anniversary of a law banning the importation of slaves into Upper Canada. Since then, Black History Month has continued to be celebrated but has not had official status.
Honouring the province’s heritage and diverse communities is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.
- The government also issued a proclamation on January 25 officially recognizing February 2016 as Black History Month in Ontario. While the proclamation only applies to 2016, the new legislation applies every year.
- Black History Month has been established under federal law since 1995, but only two provinces — British Columbia and Quebec — have their own legislation.
- Ontario officially recognizes many cultures, including Hispanic, Tamil, Sikh, Jewish and Italian, through cultural heritage months.
“The Black community in Ontario has a long and rich history, and we are proud to recognize this important heritage during Black History Month every February. I am proud that our government has worked to preserve this tradition in law — ensuring that future generations will continue to honour those who came before them and pay tribute to their legacy.”
— Michael Coteau, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
“While Black History Month is a time for us to reflect on both the sacrifices and achievements of the black community, it is also a time that inspires hope and optimism for the future. In recognizing those heroes that have done so much to build the society we live in today, this legislation is a reflection of that hope.”
— Mitzie Hunter, Associate Minister of Finance
“Black History Month is a time to give homage to the achievements and contributions of Black peoples. It is a time to reflect on the past, recognize greatness in our present, and nurture future black leaders of tomorrow. The OBHS is grateful for Ontario’s legislation to establish February as Black History Month. We are driven to promote, protect, and preserve black heritage.”
— Nikki Clarke, Ontario Black History Month Society President