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Volume 3, Number 1, January-February 2007

Banner: Library and Archives Canada - e-Newsletter

Message from Ian E. Wilson
Librarian and Archivist of Canada

Celebrating Black History Month in Canada


"Library and Archives Canada, in co-operation with the Black community in Canada, has much to do to ensure that the record we pass on is truly representative of the Canadian experience, the full, diverse Canadian experience in all of its guises--the good, the difficult, the inherently honest. The process is by turns celebratory, commemorative, mournful, but the objective is to understand, to learn from our history and to carry forth these lessons as we meet the challenges of the 21st century. Together, we strive to ensure that the archival, library and museum legacy we leave to the future is reflective of the diversity and complexity of Canada."

I presented the above remarks during the 2005 Multiple Lenses: Voices from the Diaspora conference organized by Professor David Divine, the James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University. This historic, national conference brought together more than 400 delegates in Halifax to explore the question of what it means to be Black and Canadian.

Continuing in the spirit of these words, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) looks forward to celebrating Black History Month in February and is planning for other community initiatives in April. This year marks some especially meaningful milestones, such as the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade in the British Empire, the 60th anniversary of Canadian Citizenship, and the 25th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In addition to co-hosting the launch of this annual event with the recently incorporated Black History Ottawa, LAC will be a programming partner for other activities and provide a venue for community events.

In April, LAC is pleased to support the organizers of the Black Diasporic Experiences of Societal Engagement: The Politics of Inclusion conference by serving as the venue. This international conference will continue many of the discussions that began in Halifax in 2005, and will feature speakers from France, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.

Under a Northern Star, one of LAC's new Web projects set for release this Spring, will highlight the social, civil and human struggles and achievements of Black Canadians. This rich site will provide access to material on such topics as Ontario's Elgin settlement, the private collection of Mary Ann Shadd Cary, and the influential Voice of the Fugitive and The Provincial Freeman newspapers.

The site will be launched at Montréal's Place des Arts on April 15 during the world premiere of Anthony Sherwood's new film 100 Years of Faith, marking the 100th anniversary of Montréal's Union United Church--a centrepiece of the Black community in that city. LAC is pleased to work with Mr. Sherwood and is planning an Ottawa premiere of the film on April 29 during the local Quebec Scene programming.

For LAC, the preservation and celebration of Canada's Black heritage is not limited to Black History Month. The institution is working hard to establish more durable ties with communities and partners that have an impact year-round and that help foster LAC collections, services and programs to better reflect Canadian society.

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