Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

It's February, which means it’s Black History Month. In Canada, this month honours, recognizes and celebrates the contributions of Black people to Canadian history and culture, and to the rest of the world. Despite the fact that these celebrations began in 1970 in the United States, it was not until 1995 that a Canadian version was established. Literature has long served as a vehicle for Black people to share their experiences. In order to pay tribute to this important month, here are 5 essential books written by Black Canadian authors.

The Hanging of Angelique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and The Burning of Old Montreal by Afua Cooper
Of Jamaican origin, Canadian historian Afua Cooper debunks the myth that slavery did not take place in Canada, by telling the tragic story of Marie-Joseph Angélique, a black enslaved woman in New France during the 18th century. A terrible fate, she tries to escape slavery but is condemned for allegedly setting fire to 46 buildings in Montreal. She was burned and hanged.

Policing Black Lives: State Violence In Canada From Slavery To The Present by Robyn Maynard
Activist Robyn Maynard illustrates institutional anti-black racism in Canada in her book " Policing Black Lives ". Using intersectional theory, she illustrates the realities of black women, black people from the LGBTQ + community, those with an immigrant background and those with disabilities.

I’ve Been Meaning To Tell You: A Letter To My Daughter by David Chariandy
In this touching work dedicated to his 13-year-old daughter, David Chariandy discusses, with an endearing tone, his reality and his experience as a Black and Asian person. It evokes the themes of identity, a sense of belonging, slavery, racism and discrimination.

What We All Long For by Dionne Brand
Professor at the University of Guelph, Dionne Brand won the Toronto Book Award for her work “What We All Long For”. Set in Toronto, this book follows the lives of a group of friends in their twenties. Brand brings up issues related to immigration, racism, incarceration, sexual orientation and sexism through this story.

The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole
The Skin We’re In” is Cole’s first book. Published last year, it’s set in the year 2017 and follows Cole’s anti-racist activism. It speaks of white supremacy, police brutality, the Black Lives Matter protests in Toronto, the experiences of Black immigrants, Black refugees, and the oppression of Indigenous people.

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