Greater Victoria residents have plenty of opportunity to celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of Black pioneers and their descendants during 2020 Black History Month in February.
From the earliest settlers in 1858 who sailed from San Francisco and helped populate the young city, to the many descendants who remain in the region and around B.C. today, their presence has expanded the diversity and culture of the region and province.
Historical and current celebrations of that cultural diversity happen throughout the month. A by-invitation launch reception is also planned for 7-9 p.m. on Jan. 28 at Victoria city hall.
Here’s a taste of what’s in store around Victoria:
Saturday, Feb. 1
– From noon to 2 p.m., visit the kiosk at the Greater Victoria Public Library’s Central Branch, 735 Broughton St. Members of the B.C. Black History Awareness Society and library staff will be on hand to help interpret displays relating to Black pioneers and other historical information.
Sunday, Feb. 9
– Starting at 10:15 a.m., society director Karen Hoshal, a direct descendant of pioneers Charles and Nancy Alexander, will lead a service at Central Saanich United Church, 7180 East Saanich Rd. Not only did the Alexanders make their first home in the area, Charles helped build the original church and was its first preacher. Tea, coffee and home-made baked goods will be available after the service.
– From 2 to 4:30 p.m., Heritage Day events at the Church of Truth Centre (111 Superior St.) celebrate the collective histories of Black pioneers and their descendants. Check out historical and other related displays set up by the Society, Old Cemeteries Society, Saanich Pioneers, United Empire Loyalists, Victoria Genealogical Society and the Salt Spring Island Archives. The experts on hand welcome questions.
Sunday, Feb. 16
– Old Cemeteries Society volunteers lead a historical guided tour at Ross Bay Cemetery of the graves of original Black pioneers, and others who were influential in the migration of Blacks to this former British colony. $5 per person, meet at Oregano’s in Fairfield Plaza at 1:45 p.m., tour is from 2-3:30.
Monday, Feb. 17
– Victoria’s Maureen Washington and her trio headline Classic Jazz and Blues and the Sweet Notes in Between, with tunes from her ninth album Harvest Moon, and more at the Belfry Theatre. Six-piece band Five Shadez of Blue open up the night with a set of classic jazz standards. Tickets are minimum $10 donation, doors open at 6 p.m. showtime at 7.
For more information, visit bcblackhistory.ca.