Why isn’t there more
Black history in
Canadian schools?

Black History is Canadian History.

Dr. Afua Cooper has assembled a team of senior scholars and graduate students in the field of African Canadian history to undertake a very ambitious, three-year project. A Black People’s History of Canada is designed to help solve the generations-long problem of “why there isn’t more Black history in Canadian schools.”

The research will be carried out in every province and territory, encompassing African Canadian history beginning in 1604 and continuing through slavery under French and British colonizers, service to the Crown and subsequent immigration of the Black Loyalists and occasioned by the American Revolution and the Black Refugees in the War of 1812, through voluntary immigration in the era of the Underground Railroad. This study will continue by examining barriers to late 19th / early 20th century immigration, the segregation of schools and public spaces, the creation of the segregated No. 2 Construction Battalion in World War 1, and the long struggle for civil rights will be discussed. The research will conclude with oral histories reflecting the modern experience of people from all over the African Diaspora who now call this country “home.”

Why Are We Doing It

Canadians of African descent experience multiple inequities which impact all aspects of their lives, including health, education, and incarceration rates. Black Canadians have higher drop-out rates—along with reduced educational outcomes—when compared to non-racialized students.
Underrepresentation of Black educators and role models in Canada’s classrooms. Poorly researched or inaccurate educational resources are used to teach Black history, resulting in Canadian educators defaulting to teaching US-perspectives.
Limited or no knowledge of African Canadian history amongst our educators has resulted in many having little or no pedagogical understanding of Black students’ experiences or their challenges. This the first and only African Canadian history education project with a national mandate with anticipated partners in each Canadian province/territory. Led by renowned scholar Dr. Afua Cooper, BPHC will be foundational to creating new classroom-ready learning materials and digital media in English and French; and will educate Canadians about the 400-plus year history of Black people’s contributions to our country. The BPHC takes an innovative approach to promote a more equitable and just society in Canada, while filling critical gaps in African Canadian history education, which will support the academic success of Black Canadian youth.

The project is directed by Dr. Afua Cooper, Killam Professor and former James R. Johnston Chair of Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University, and funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

A Black People’s History of Canada empowers educators, learners, and all Canadians through ground-breaking research in African Canadian history.
We mobilize this new knowledge through workshops and conferences, publications, the project’s website, podcasts, films and videos, and print and social media. The end result is the creation of engaging class-room ready curricular material for K-12 learners. We collaborate and consult with African Canadian organizations, educational authorities, and government agencies.
Partnering with professional educators, community organizations, archives, libraries and government agencies in every Canadian province and territory, the project team will:
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