Black History Month: did you know?

Happy Black History Month to you all, from the PSAC BC Racially Visible Caucus!

In December 1995, Canadian House of Common has proclaimed February as Black History Month in Canada following a motion introduced by Honourable Jean Augustine.

February is the month to celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Black Canadians and their communities who, throughout history, have done so much to make Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate, and prosperous nation it is today. Please let’s take that opportunity to learn and educate ourselves with one story at a time. 

Let’s meet Oscar Peterson – Jazz Pianist

Oscar Peterson was born in 1925 in Montreal, from a train porter father, and this legendary and award winning jazz pianist would go on to win countless honours including eight Grammys. He was one of the first Black artists to gain fame in the white-dominated music industry of the 1950s and was a spokesman for minority rights.

“We talk of Celine Dion and Shania Twain and Alanis Morissette and Bryan Adams. Oscar Peterson did what they did years ago as a Black person. So what he’s done is incredible,” said Tracy Biddle.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien said that when he first met Peterson in the 1960s, his level of international fame was without parallel among his countrymen and added “Peterson was the most famous Canadian in the world”.

Canadian politician, Bob Rae said, “A one-handed Oscar was better than just about anyone with two hands.”

Oscar Peterson was inducted in The Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1978. He died 2007, and Oscar Peterson’s legacy lives on through his incredible music.

Visit the National Arts Centre website to listen to Oscar Peterson’s commemoration at the unveiling of his statue at the Canada’s National Arts Centre.