Introduction to the Virtual Museum and Importance of Black History Month

Understanding Black history in British Columbia is crucial to understanding the modern Black experience in our province. This virtual museum is intended to critically engage with our province's history and to discuss the Black experience in British Columbia, UBC, and our professions. This virtual museum is just one of our initiatives for Black History Month:

Talk: Understanding and reconciling the history of our professions

This event has passed. 

Talk: Historical Considerations on Nursing Education across Canada

 This event has passed. 

A panel conversation on the Black experience in the Faculty of Applied Science

This event has passed. 

Black History Month Pop-up Museum Display: Black Canadian History and Applied Science

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Early Black Settlers

The first Black settlers to British Columbia arrived in 1858. They came from California and arrived in the province just as the gold rush on the Fraser River was beginning. Some chased the gold rush while others settled in communities like Victoria and Salt Spring Island, where they worked as barbers, saloon keepers, and day labourers. 

Early Black British Columbians sought to make an impact in the province but faced barriers, with segregation being common. This segregation led to Black people being barred from theatres, bars, and even being barred from signing up as volunteer firefighters. Despite this segregation, 600 Black people immigrated to the province. 

This article appeared in the Orchard City Record on April 20, 1911

Soon after the American Civil War, many of the estimated 600 Black immigrants returned to the United States. The province never did receive another major wave of Black immigration. This was largely due to racist and unfriendly immigration policies that sought to limit Black immigration to the Canadian west. For instance, in the early 1900s, another large wave of Black American immigrants sought to enter Canada. However, they faced resistance and, as reported in the Orchard City Record (see side image),  were refused entry into British Columbia. 

“The movement to Canada of negroes from Oklahoma has received its latest check on the British Columbia boundary,” one immigration officer was quoted, saying, “we are following the declared policy of the government, which does not encourage the negro as a settler, because the authorities do not think he will do well in Canada’s climate.”

Orchard City Record, April 20, 1911

Despite this resistance, Black people continued to exist in British Columbia with Vancouver’s Black community congregating in the East End between the 1920s and 1960s. The centre of their community was Hogan’s Alley, which became a “cultural hub.” Hogan’s Alley was later destroyed with no similar Black neighbourhood emerging to take its place. 

Currently, Black British Columbians only make up 1% of the province's population

Check out the stories below to learn more!

Platinum Sponsor

The Faculty of Applied Science – in conjunction with the Faculty of Science – is proud to be a platinum sponsor for the BE-STEMM 2023 Conference.

The conference promotes Black excellence in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine & Health) and will feature talks, panel discussions, and a virtual career fair.

BE-STEMM 2023 Conference

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