February—Black History Month

By Rita Button

Celebrating its twenty-fifth year of existence, the British Columbia Black History Awareness Society (BCBHAS) has planned a number of events that will appeal to many this February as we pause to reflect on the nature of diversity and its ability to be the difference that makes a difference in our lives.

The kick-off activity occurs on February 2 from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm at the Greater Victoria Public Library, 735 Broughton Street in the Rotunda where you can meet members of the BCBHAS and discuss the history and genealogy of black people on Vancouver Island.

A concert at The Belfry Theatre on February fourth at 7 pm with admission by donation—$10.00 being the suggested amount—features Adelene da Soul Poet, originally named Bertha Clark, as the first performer. Adelene is a descendant of British Columbian black pioneers. Her grandmother owned Vic’s Chicken and Steaks restaurant in Vancouver, where black performers gathered when they performed in Vancouver. As well, Pablo Cardenas, a multi-talented pianist whose abilities encompass many different musical genres—from fusion to jazz and beyond—will play. Cardenas graduated from the National Conservatory of Music in Mantanzas, Cuba in 1996 and from the National Conservatory of Music in Havana, Cuba in 2001.

On February 17, between 1:00pm and 4:00 pm, the Cook Street Activity Centre will host a number of historical societies—BC Black Historical Awareness Society, Old Cemeteries Society, Victoria Genealogical Society, The United Empire Loyalists, and the Saanich Pioneers Society—all of which will display artifacts and information illustrating the black experience. Speakers from BCBHAS will comment on the history not only of the society but also of the pioneers who made a life on Vancouver Island. All members of the societies at the event will share past events and memories relevant to understanding the black experience in Victoria. The Oak Bay Jazz Band will play; Tea Maisha will provide tea (by donation) and baked goods along with cold drinks will be donated by Thrifty Foods.

If you enjoy exploring history through gravesites, you might want to join the Ross Bay Cemetery tour of pioneer black grave sites on February 24. The tour begins at 2:00 pm and ends at 3:30 pm. Admission is $5.00 unless you are a member of the Old Cemetery Society or BCBHAS in which case the admission is $2.00. Meet in front of Oregano’s in the Fairfield Shopping Centre at 1:50 pm.

Karen Hoshal, VP of BCHAS and direct descendant of Charles and Nancy Alexander, will lead a church service at Central Saanich United Church, formerly known as Shady Creek Church, at 7180 East Saanich Road. Charles Alexander, the first preacher at this church, helped build the original church on the site. At press time, the date of the service was still unknown, but you can check on-line at https://bcblackhistory.ca/bcbhas-events/

On February 28, back at the Greater Victoria Public Library at 7:00 pm, Dr. Elizabeth Vibert of the UVic Speakers Bureau will show her 2017 documentary, The Thinking Garden: A Film about South African Women Sowing the Seeds of Change. Moira Simpson, a Vancouver cinematographer, filmed the documentary, which illustrates thirty women who farm in South Africa. In their work, they help people suffering from AIDS/HIV and also do their bit to prevent climate change. You have to register for this film, which will be in the Community Room at the library. Admission is free. Register on-line at https://www.gvpl.ca/event/black-history-month-film-screening-the-thinking-garden/

Another concert you might enjoy is Issamba’s two hour exploration of African music, celebrating African culture. It occurs at the Victoria Events Centre, 1416 Broad Street, on February 14; ticket prices are between $15.00 to $30.00. The Event Centre is on the second floor, and their elevator is not in service at this time. Their website is https://www.africafest.ca/issambra if you’d like more information.

Check daily papers and websites for more information.

Information has been gleaned from the websites identified in the article.

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