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Statement by the Lieutenant Governor on Black History Month

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“There is no Ontario, as we know it today, without the incredible contributions, voices, and achievements of Black Canadians. Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate all that the Black community in our province and country adds to our society, and pause to recognize their experience and history.

This year’s theme, “Canadians of African Descent: Going forward, guided by the past” coincides with the United Nations International Decade of People of African Descent (2015-2024). The history of the diaspora here in Ontario is older than the province, beginning in a time of slavery through to the War of 1812 when thousands of Black volunteers fought against American soldiers, leading to the underground railroad when African Americans sought refuge and freedom in Canada. Throughout the country’s history, Black Canadians have broken barriers, and demanded equal rights with bravery and conviction. Both women and men have been, and continue to be, leaders in their communities across Ontario.

This legacy is carried on today as new Ontarians and Canadians from Africa arrive and build on the accomplishments of those before them. The leadership and strength of the community is particularly apparent in the mothers, daughters, and sisters. I pay tribute to their stories and their impact on this province. As Ontarians seek resilience in a changing world there is wisdom and guidance to be derived from our past.”

– The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario