Happy Black History Month to you all, from the PSAC BC Racially Visible Caucus!
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.
Do you see the viaduct in that picture? This is where Vancouver’s Black Community used to live in the 1900s.
History has shown that institutional racism often targets marginalized communities. Hogan’s Alley, in Vancouver, is one such example. The first Black immigrants (of African Descent) arrived in British Columbia from California in 1858.
They settled in Vancouver Islands but began migrating to Vancouver in the early 1900s. Hogan’s Alley was ethnically diverse but had a large cluster of Black businesses and residents (reaching over 800) that formed the nucleus of Vancouver’s first concentrated African Canadian community.
Along with the resident population, the area was a destination spot for Black train porters on layover, Black vaudeville circuits coming through via California and popular Black musicians of the time. However, the vision of urban renewal gradually displaced and eventually demolished most of Hogan’s Alley in 1972, making way for the Georgia Viaduct.
So, what was once a vibrant cultural hub for great food and jazz music in the 1960s was quickly transformed into the noise of vehicles as they passed by on the new viaduct. Like the destruction of Africville in Nova Scotia, another Black community in Vancouver was demolished. The question now is which marginalized community will be next?