BEING BLACK IN ALBERTA

Violet King Henry (born 1929) graduated in Law, University of Alberta in 1954 and became the first person of African descent to be called to the Alberta Bar, as well as the first Black female to be called to the bar in Canada.

Violet King Henry (born 1929) graduated in Law, University of Alberta in 1954 and became the first person of African descent to be called to the Alberta Bar, as well as the first Black female to be called to the bar in Canada.

 

It is important to examine the history, experiences, challenges and contributions of people of African descent in Alberta. The presence of Black people in Alberta dates back to the mid-1800’s encompassing early Black cowboys and fur traders, “one by the name Henry Mills” as Cheryl Foggo reminds us. However, the immigration of people of African descent into Alberta has been met with resistance and racism by White settlers from the beginning. An archival document reveals that back in 1899, the Department Assistant Secretary in charge of immigration Lynwood Pereira advised the Canadian government agent in Kansas City, James S. Crawford that “it is not desired that any Negro should in Western Canada under auspices of our department, or that such immigration should be promoted by our agents”. Additionally, an Edmonton Evening Journal published a derogatory article proclaiming “We Want No Dark Spots in Alberta.” Cogently, it can be sustained that it hasn’t been a smooth journey for the people of African descent coming and settling into Canada (Alberta included). Historians and Scholars have questioned the representation of Blacks in the written history of Alberta. On this note, February is acknowledged as Black History month and entails the acknowledgement of the role Blacks have played in the region. John Ware was a formerly enslaved man who played a key part in the flourishing of the ranching endeavour in Alberta, Oliver Bowen was Calgary transportation director and the architect of the LRT. These examples among many others demonstrate that Black people have been and continue to be instrumental figures in Alberta’s advancement. Black people continue to face discrimination in Alberta, which problematizes our understanding of the so called Canadian-cultural Mosaic. 

Below are a few articles and references. They refer to the issues surrounding these colour dynamics in a way that demands recognition and ardent attention to a point of discussion.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH—FEBRUARY

http://edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/black-history-month-officially-recognized-in-alberta

 BLACK HISTORY IN ALBERTA

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/black-history-month-alberta-1.3962796

BEING BLACK IN ALBERTA—RACIAL PROFILING

http://www.cbc.ca/news/thenational/racial-profiling-by-edmonton-police-uncovered-1.4181009

BEING AN OTHER IN ALBERTA—RACIAL PROFILING AMONG INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND BLACK PEOPLE

http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/black-people-aboriginal-women-over-represented-in-carding-police-stops

BEING BLACK IN ALBERTA—POSSIBILITIES OF BEING ‘CARDED’ 

https://globalnews.ca/news/3559077/aboriginal-women-black-people-much-more-likely-to-be-carded-by-edmonton-police/

BEING BLACK IN CANADA—SUCCESSFUL BLACKS IN CANADA

https://www.pinterest.ca/readinannabooks/black-history-month/

A BOOK REVIEW: Deemed Unsuitable: The Search for Equality in Canada’s Prairie Provinces by Blacks from Oklahoma by R. Bruce Shepard

https://quillandquire.com/review/deemed-unsuitable-the-search-for-equality-in-canada-s-prairie-provinces-by-blacks-from-oklahoma/

ARTICLE: 

  • “My Home Is Over Jordan – southern Alberta’s Black Pioneers” BY CHERYL FOGGO
  • “The Black Canadian: An Exposition of Race, Gender, and Citizenship” BY JENNIFER R. KELLY AND MIKAEL WOSSEN-TAFFESSE