By: Elizabeth Iwunwa
Across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, the month of February is set aside as Black History Month. This event originated in the United States in 1976 to celebrate important people and events in African and African-American history. It was first celebrated in Canada within the black community in Toronto. After lobby efforts by the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS) and the first black Canadian woman elected to parliament, the Honorable Jean Augustine, the Parliament of Canada in December 1995 officially recognized February as Black History Month.
Here on Prince Edward Island, the creation of the Black Cultural Society (BCS) was spurred by the desire to carry on the work of the Black Islanders Cooperative (BIC) and interest from the newer generation of Black Islanders to continue the legacy.
Spokesperson of the Black Cultural Society Sarah Tamula, in an interview with the Cadre, says the mandate of the society particularly on PEI is to help share Black Islander stories, culture, and heritage with the greater population and to create a significant sense of community for Black Islanders. Very little is currently known of PEI’s Black history and heritage as much has been lost or uncovered over time. The organization seeks to create an ongoing legacy for future generations that speaks of the “lives, loves, contributions, and achievements of the new generations of Black Islanders.”
She says that beyond Black History Month the organization plans to have a monthly event, continue recording information on Island Black History, and document the stories of Black Islanders who currently live on the island as well as those new to the community. In addition, it seeks to research and make information regarding Black Island Culture available.
Anyone who is interested in Black Island History and Black Culture can be involved with the society. There is a growing need for an organization such as this to celebrate and bring greater awareness to Prince Edward Island’s black history. The inflow of more and more immigrants into the Gentle Island has introduced new stories, arts, cultures, and backgrounds to island life. There is a unique need within the community as over the last decade, there has been an influx of immigrants especially of African descent. For further information on the association, call 902-388-7517 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.