February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians through history. They have helped make Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate and prosperous nation it is today. This compilation of videos, now on display at NDC Library, was created in their honour.
Black History in Canada Video List
Black Soul Martine Chartrand’s animated short dives into the heart of Black culture with an exhilarating trip though history. Watch as a young boy traces his roots through the stories his grandmother shares with him about the events that shaped their cultural heritage.
Book of Negroes Based on the award-winning novel by Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negroes depicts the extraordinary life journey of Aminata Diallo, an indomitable African woman who cuts a swath through a world that is predisposed to underestimate her. Kidnapped by slave traders in West Africa and subsequently enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata must navigate her way through the American Revolution in New York, the isolated refuge given to Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia and the treacherous jungles of Sierra Leone, before ultimately securing her freedom in England at the dawn of the 19th century.
Brother 2 Brother An inspirational film about one man’s power to change; Corey Lucas is an African Canadian living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. With a head full of dreams and empty pockets he turned to selling drugs on the street. Now as the father of a three-year old son, he tries to reconcile the life he knows with his desire to be a responsible father and a supporting partner. He experiences the transformative power of a weekend retreat for young Black males, organized by BROS (the Brothers Reaching Out Society). The story shows that despite all the odds against them young Black men can succeed if they have the will, the opportunity and the support of a community.
Deeply Rooted Filmmaker Cazhhmere is a seventh-generation black Canadian. Despite this deep history, she’s constantly asked to explain where she’s from — even though the answer is always “Canada.” Cazhhmere is a proud Canadian. Her ancestors were among the first black settlers to come to Canada — her family has spent hundreds of years weaving itself into the fabric of our nation. Despite this deep history, Cazhhmere is constantly questioned about where she is originally from. In Deeply Rooted, Cazhhmere will change your perception of what a multi-generational Canadian family looks like. In a country that is widely known for being a “global melting pot,” our nation can easily forget that not every person of colour is a newcomer to Canada.
Everybody’s Children Monika Delmos’s documentary captures a year in the life of two teenage refugees, Joyce and Sallieu, who have left their own countries to make a new life in Ontario. Joyce, 17, left the Democratic Republic of Congo to avoid being forced into prostitution by her family. Sallieu, 16, had witnessed the murder of his mother as a young boy in wartorn Sierra Leone.
Delmos follows them as they bear the normal pressures of being a teenager while simultaneously undergoing the refugee application process. She shows how the guidance and support of a handful of people make a real difference in the day-to-day lives of these children.
Invisible City The film is set in the inner-city housing project of Toronto’s Regent Park; Kendell and Mikey, like their surroundings are in the process of transformation; the environment and social pressures tempting them to make poor choices, their mothers and mentors rooting for them to succeed. Turning his camera on the often ignored inner city, Academy-award nominated director Hubert Davis sensitively depicts the disconnection of urban poverty and race from the mainstream.
Journey to Justice This documentary pays tribute to a group of Canadians who took racism to court. They are Canada’s unsung heroes in the fight for Black civil rights. Focusing on the 1930s to the 1950s, this film documents the struggle of 6 people who refused to accept inequality. Featured here, among others, are Viola Desmond, a woman who insisted on keeping her seat at a Halifax movie theatre in 1946 rather than moving to the section normally reserved for the city’s Black population, and Fred Christie, who took his case to the Supreme Court after being denied service at a Montreal tavern in 1936. These brave pioneers helped secure justice for all Canadians. Their stories deserve to be told.
Remember Africville This short film depicts Africville, a small black settlement that lay within the city limits of Halifax, Nova Scotia. In the 1960s, the families there were uprooted and their homes demolished in the name of urban renewal and integration. More than 20 years later, the site of the community of Africville is a stark, under-utilized park. Former residents, their descendants and some of the decision-makers speak out and, with the help of archival photographs and films, tell the story of that painful relocation.
The Skin We’re In Urgent, controversial and undeniably honest, The Skin We’re In is a wake-up call to complacent Canadians. Racism is here. It is everywhere. It is us and we are it. Following celebrated journalist Desmond Cole as he researches his hotly anticipated book, this documentary from acclaimed director Charles Officer pulls back the curtain on racism in Canada.
Speakers for the Dead This documentary reveals some of the hidden history of Blacks in Canada. In the 1930s in rural Ontario, a farmer buried the tombstones of a Black cemetery to make way for a potato patch. In the 1980s, descendants of the original settlers, Black and White, came together to restore the cemetery, but there were hidden truths no one wanted to discuss. Deep racial wounds were opened. Scenes of the cemetery excavation, interviews with residents and re-enactments—including one of a baseball game where a broken headstone is used for home plate—add to the film’s emotional intensity.
Wide Eyed Ms. Jane Elliott, in all-white, all-Christian, Riceville, Iowa, involved her students in an exercise in discrimination based on eye-color. It was her attempt to help them to understand some of the reasons why Black people were taking to the streets and demanding equitable treatment with whites. Since then she has conducted the same exercise with people of all ages in cities all over the United States and in several other countries.