Black History Month became official in 2008
The commemoration of African Heritage Month in Canada can be traced to 1926 when Harvard-educated black historian Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week to recognize the achievements of African Americans.
Woodson purposefully chose February for the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, both key figures in the emancipation of enslaved blacks.
In 1976, as part of the American Bicentennial celebrations, Negro History Week was expanded to Black History.
The vast contributions of African-Canadians to Canadian society have been acknowledged, informally, since the early 1950s.
In December 1995, the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month, following a motion introduced by the first black Canadian woman elected to Parliament, Liberal MP Jean Augustine.
In February 2008, now retired Nova Scotia Senator Donald Oliver, the first black man appointed to the Senate, introduced a motion to have the Senate officially declare February as Black History Month. It received unanimous approval and was adopted on March 4, 2008.
The adoption of Oliver’s motion was the final parliamentary procedure needed for Canada’s permanent recognition of Black History Month.