Black Canadian

From Academic Kids

Black Canadian is a term used to identify a Canadian of African descent. It is also becoming increasingly common to refer to a black Canadian as an African Canadian or Afro-Canadian. Caribbean-Canadian may also be used to refer to black Canadians of Caribbean birth or heritage, who form a much larger proportion of the black population in Canada than in the United States.

According to the 2001 Census, 662,215 Canadians identified themselves as black, approximately 2% of the entire Canadian population (Statistics Canada). The majority of black Canadians live in five Canadian cities. As of 2001, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Halifax were home to approximately 78.4 percent of all black Canadians.

Many black Canadians still face challenges. According to the Ethnic Diversity Survey that was released in September 2003, nearly one-third (32%) of blacks said that they had experienced some form of discrimination or unfair treatment sometimes or often in the five years prior to 2003.


Black immigration

Black people arrived in Canada in several waves of immigration. The first of these was a large group who came to Nova Scotia after the American War of Independence. About 2000 of these were the slaves of white United Empire Loyalists. A larger group, about 3500, were freemen, many just recently freed by British authorities.

Canada was not suited to the large-scale agricultural slavery practiced in the United States and slavery became increasingly uncommon. It was all but abolished by 1800, and was completely illegal throughout the British Empire after 1834. This made Canada an attractive destination for those fleeing slavery in the United States. From the 1830s until the American Civil War began in 1861 the Underground Railroad brought tens of thousands of fleeing slaves to Canada, while many of these returned to the United States after emancipation a significant population remained, largely in Southern Ontario. A wave of black immigration to British Columbia coincided with that colony's gold rush of 1858, when half of the black population of San Francisco migrated to and settled in Victoria.

The next important period of migration was part of a general movement of Americans into the Canadian west in the early twentieth century. This included a significant number of Blacks known as the Exodusters. At this point in Canada there were strong concerns about non-white immigration and the government attempted to limit Black migration.

Restrictions on immigration remained until 1962 when racial rules were eliminated from the immigration laws. This coincided with the dissolution of the British Empire in the Caribbean and over the next decades several hundred thousand Blacks came from that region to Canada.

In recent years an increasing number of immigrants from Africa have been coming to Canada. This includes large numbers of refugees, especially from Somalia, but also many skilled workers pursuing better economic conditions.

Notable Black Canadians, past and present

Actors and directors



Politicians, public servants and soldiers

Writers and journalists

Other historical figures

Multiracial Canadians

Multiracial refers to people who are of mixed racial heritage.

There are a number of famous Canadians who are of mixed African/Caucasian or African/Asian descent.

Author Lawrence Hill published a bestselling memoir of his experiences as a multiracial Canadian, Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada, in 2001.

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