Search for "black history"

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Jennifer Hodge de Silva

Jennifer Hodge de Silva, née Hodge, documentary filmmaker (born 28 January 1951 in Montreal, QC; died 5 May 1989 in Montreal). Jennifer Hodge de Silva was a pioneering African Canadian filmmaker of the 1970s and 1980s. She was the first Black filmmaker to work consistently with both the National Film Board and the CBC. She produced an acclaimed and influential body of work known as realist social issue documentary. Her highly regarded film Home Feeling: A Struggle for Community (1983), co-directed with Robert McTair, is widely taught in film studies programs throughout Canada.

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The Blackfly Song

One of Canada’s most iconic folk songs, “The Blackfly Song” was originally believed to have been written by Wade Hemsworth in 1949 while he was visiting Northern Ontario with an Ontario Hydro survey party to study the feasibility of a dam on the Little Abitibi River, which flows north towards James Bay. However, in a 1996 interview, Hemsworth explained that, though the song recounts that experience, he actually wrote it while on a survey expedition in Labrador. The song was featured in Christopher Hinton’s Oscar-nominated animated short Blackfly (1991) and inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003.

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George Dixon

George Dixon, boxer (born 29 July 1870 in Africville, NS; died 6 January 1908 in New York, New York). George Dixon was the first Black world champion in boxing history and the first Canadian to ever win a world championship. Despite his small stature (5 feet 3.5 inches and between 87 and 115 pounds), Dixon amassed several notable accomplishments across a 20-year career and was the first boxer to win championships in multiple weight classes — bantamweight (1890) and featherweight (1891–96; 1897; 1898–1900). A cerebral fighter known as a “pioneer of scientific boxing,” he is credited with inventing various fundamental training techniques, including shadowboxing and the use of the heavy bag. As a dominant Black fighter in the post-Civil War United States, Dixon was subjected to fierce racism. He died in poverty from alcoholism at the age of 37. He was an inaugural inductee into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame, and was also named to The Ring Magazine Hall of Fame and the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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George Black

George Black, lawyer, politician, commissioner of the Yukon Territory, MP (b at Woodstock, NB 10 Apr 1873; d at Vancouver, BC 23 Aug 1965).

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Orphan Black

Orphan Black is a critically acclaimed science fiction TV series created by John Fawcett and Graeme Manson. It stars Tatiana Maslany as more than a dozen clones who attempt to solve the mystery behind their creation. Over its five-season run (2013–17) on Space in Canada and BBC America in the United States, Orphan Black developed a dedicated cult following and won numerous awards, including a Peabody Award and 36 Canadian Screen Awards, including three for best dramatic series and four for best lead actress. In 2016, Maslany became the first Canadian actor on a Canadian show to win an Emmy Award for acting in a dramatic series.

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Samuel Black

Samuel Black, fur trader, explorer (b at Pitsligo, Scot 3 May 1780; d at Kamloops, New Caledonia [BC] 8 Feb 1841). He joined the XY Co, which was absorbed by the NORTH WEST CO in 1804.

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William Black

William Black, Methodist clergyman (b at Huddersfield, Eng 10 Nov 1760; d at Halifax 8 Sept 1834). Black settled near Amherst, Nova Scotia, with his family in 1775.

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Black Hole

A black hole is an object in outer space whose the gravitational field is so strong that no matter or light can escape. Astronomers believe such regions can form from the collapse of massive stars. Researchers at Canadian institutions have contributed to theories supporting the existence of black holes.

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Black Bear

The most common and widespread bear in Canada, the black bear (Ursus americanus) is found predominantly in forests of every province and territory, with the exception of Prince Edward Island.

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Jully Black

Jully Ann Inderia Gordon, singer, songwriter, actor, TV personality (born 8 November 1977 in Toronto, ON). Known as “Canada’s Queen of R&B,” Jully Black is an award-winning R&B and soul singer-songwriter. In 2013, CBC Music named her one of the 25 Greatest Canadian Singers Ever. Her rich and soulful alto voice has garnered comparisons to Tina Turner and Amy Winehouse. Her album Revival (2007) was certified gold in Canada and won the Juno Award for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year. She has written songs for Destiny’s Child, Nas, Sean Paul and Missy Elliott, among others, and started her own recording, management and publishing company. Black has appeared on stage in productions of trey anthony’s play Da Kink in My Hair and Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s Caroline, or Change. She is also a popular television host and panel guest. 

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Black Fly

Black flies are small, dark-coloured insects belonging to the family Simuliidae. Of the world’s more than 2,300 species, at least 164 are found in Canada. Black flies reproduce in streams and are found all across Canada. They are particularly common in northern temperate and subarctic regions. Because female black flies need to feed on blood to lay eggs, their biting can be a nuisance to humans and other animals. Among the most common and notorious black flies in Canada are Simulium truncatum and Simulium venustum.

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James Franklin

James Munroe Franklin, First World War soldier (born 12 October 1899 in Whitaker, Mississippi; died 8 October 1916 in France). Franklin, a private in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), was likely the first Black Canadian (and first Black North American) killed in action in the First World War.

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Viola Desmond

Viola Irene Desmond (née Davis), businesswoman, civil rights activist (born 6 July 1914 in Halifax, NS; died 7 February 1965 in New York, NY). Viola Desmond built a career and business as a beautician and was a mentor to young Black women in Nova Scotia through her Desmond School of Beauty Culture. In 1946, Viola Desmond challenged racial discrimination when she refused to leave the segregated Whites-only section of the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Viola Desmond was arrested, jailed overnight and convicted without legal representation for an obscure tax offence as a result. Despite the efforts of the Nova Scotian Black community to assist her appeal, Viola Desmond was unable to remove the charges against her and went unpardoned in her lifetime. Desmond’s courageous refusal to accept an act of racial discrimination provided inspiration to later generations of Black persons in Nova Scotia and in the rest of Canada. In 2010, Lieutenant-Governor Mayann Francis issued Desmond a free pardon. In December 2016, the Bank of Canada announced that Viola Desmond would be the first Canadian woman to be featured by herself on the face of a banknote — the $10 note released on 19 November 2018. Viola Desmond was named a National Historic Person by the Canadian government in 2018.

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Jackie Shane

Jackie Shane, singer (born 15 May 1940 in Nashville, Tennessee; died 22 February 2019 in Nashville). Jackie Shane was a pioneering transgender performer who was a prominent figure in Toronto’s R&B scene in the 1960s. Her cover of William Bell’s “Any Other Way” reached No. 2 on the CHUM singles chart in 1963. Her 1967 live album, Jackie Shane Live, was reissued in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize’s 1960–1970 Heritage Award. Any Other Way, an anthology album of songs from Shane’s career and monologues from her live shows, was released in 2017. It was nominated for a 2019 Grammy Award for Best Historical Album. Shane is featured in a mural on the side of a building in downtown Toronto commemorating the Yonge Street music scene of the 1960s.