Each year in February, the City of Toronto is proud to support events and exhibits scheduled for Black History Month, inviting members of the public to explore and celebrate the heritage, traditions and culture of African-Canadians.

Black History Month began in the United States as “Negro History Week” in February 1926, through the work of African American scholar Dr. Carter G. Woodson. His aim was to raise awareness and understanding in the school curriculum of the African experience around the world. The United States began to formally celebrate Black History Month in the 1960s. Through community activities, organizers sought to present a more balanced and accurate picture of Black history.

In the 1950s, community organizations such as the Canadian Negro Women’s Association began to celebrate the importance of the history of the black community in Toronto. In 1979, Toronto became the first municipality in Canada to proclaim Black History Month through the efforts of many individuals and organizations such as the Ontario Black History Society. In 1995, Toronto Area MP Jean Augustine introduced a motion that was passed unanimously by the House of Commons to recognize Black History Month across Canada.

Black History Month is an opportunity for the City of Toronto to recognize the past and present contributions that African Canadians make to the life of Toronto in such areas as education, medicine, art, culture, public service, economic development, politics and human rights.

Celebrating Black authors at Toronto Public Library 

Toronto Public Library’s featured Black History Month events include author talks with Andrew Hunter about his book, It Was Dark There All The Time: Sophia Burhen and the Legacy of Slavery in Canada, an interview with Ron Nelson by Before the 6ix hosts Del Cowie and DJ Agile celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Fantastic Voyage radio show and more. Browse all Black history and culture events.

Black Women in Leadership photo exhibit

The Toronto Archives, in partnership with the Black Artists’ Networks in Dialogue Gallery and Cultural Centre (BAND), presents the Black Women in Leadership photography exhibition featuring portraits of 40 Black women leaders by four Toronto-based visual artists. The exhibition is free at the Toronto Archives (255 Spadina Road), open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Find more details.

Black History Month at Toronto History Museums

A free event series in February celebrates Black History Month through music, culture and storytelling that will uplift and warm the soul. Meet the artists of Dis/Mantle art exhibit, enjoy musical performances by LOKRE and akaMatisse, celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mary Ann Shadd Cary – the first Black woman to publish a newspaper in North America and more. Browse all events.

#Dewoven, Distressed & Falling Apart at the Seams exhibition

Experience an engaging selection of mixed media and paintings by multi-award-winning artist Dionne Simpson. This exhibition is on view at the Clark Centre for the Arts until February 27. Find more details.

Community feedback wanted for Humber Bay Shores public artworks

The City of Toronto is looking for community feedback on four Indigenous public art proposals for the new plaza along the Humber Bay Shores trail. Attend the free online event to hear the shortlisted artists speak to their projects, followed by a Q&A session. Taking place Tuesday, February 7 from 12 to 1 p.m. Register here.

Bloody Boats ArtworxTO exhibit at Billy Bishop Airport

ArtworxTO and Nieuport Aviation present Bloody Boats by Akshata Naik, now on view at Billy Bishop Airport. The art installation deconstructs and dismantles the boat as a symbol of the traumatic journey that many immigrants experience. Find more details.

Visit the City of Toronto website for more information. Browse free events and exhibits taking place at Toronto.ca/BlackHistory.


About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.