The month-long event celebrates important black figures and moments in history, such as the 1963 March on Washington, Barack Obama becoming the first black president of the United States in 2009, and even Canadian Viola Desmond being arrested in 1946 for sitting in a floor seat at a segregated movie theatre in Nova Scotia.
Originally created in 1926 as Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson — he chose the second week of February as a way to highlight the birthdays of Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14) and Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12) — the week turned into a month-long national observance in the U.S. in 1976. Canada followed suit in 1995, thanks to Jean Augustine, the first black woman elected to Parliament in Canada.
Throughout the month of February, Global News will profile a black historical figure every day to celebrate their contributions to their communities and honour their incredible accomplishment(s).
Click on the image(s) below to learn more about each person.
The Halifax Convention Centre has left its mark on downtown Halifax and on Sunday the building opened its doors so it could leave a mark on the public.
Jan. 12 and 13 saw the convention centre host an open house to mark its first birthday. More than 1,500 people streamed through the doors over the two-day period to get a glimpse of the inside of the glass and metal behemoth that dominates the city’s downtown core.
“We’re incredibly proud to open our doors and welcome the community to come in and see our space,” said Erin Esiyok-Prime, director of marketing and communications for the Halifax Convention Centre.
“There’s definitely an interest from the community to see our space, check out the different views of the building and just have fun.”
Artists from the East Coast Music Association played during the day and Taste of Nova Scotia vendors offered snacks and goodies for visitors.
Built with $169 million in taxpayer funding, the 120,000-sq.-ft. Halifax Convention Centre was part of a massive $500-million construction project, that began in January 2013 and opened several years behind schedule.
Attendees to the Halifax Convention Centre’s first birthday open house were able to take in free music, enjoy snacks and tour the building.
Alexander Quon/Global News
The entire one-million-square-foot development known as the Nova Centre, includes a hotel, office tower and public plaza.
Although the hotel portion of the facility has yet to be opened, the convention centre has hosted more than 140 events including the Federal Conservative Convention and the 2018 Liberal National Convention.
One of the city’s newest professional sports franchise, a professional soccer team, even chose to reveal their name at the convention centre.
WATCH: Halifax Wanderers named as city’s newest professional sports team
Esiyok-Prime says the centre and its team are proud of the work they’ve done and are happy to help draw national and international travellers to Halifax.
With over 85 events already booked for 2019, the convention centre is set to continue providing a place for conventions and events to be hosted.
“We are not slowing down,” said Esiyok-Prime. “2019 is shaping up to be another amazing year.”
There wasn’t heartbreak, a fumble or interception that would leave the Calgary Stampeders wondering what might have been.
It was only pure joy and celebration for the Stamps, who defeated the Ottawa Redblacks 27-16 to capture the 106th Grey Cup.
And when the clock finally hit zeroes inside Commonwealth Stadium on Sunday night in Edmonton, Calgary players galloped onto the field, raced to the stage and hoisted the trophy that had eluded them the past two seasons.
They danced around for what seemed like an eternity as red-and-white confetti shot into the calm, crisp night. None of the players were leaving the stage. They weren’t in a hurry. It was a championship moment three years in the making.
« Those emotions flooded over us. We were making up for lost time, » said Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell.
A special kind of win
Mitchell was named the Grey Cup MVP for the second time in his career. He was named MVP during his first Grey Cup win four years ago in Vancouver and is now 2-2 as a starter in the championship game.
But this win was different. The heartbreaking sting of the last two Grey Cup defeats left the Stampeders wondering if they’d ever get back to the top.
« It’s been hard, » Mitchell said. « The amount of time you put in. There is so much sacrifice and sometimes it feels worthless when you get to the championship and lose. »
When the Stampeders finally made it inside their locker room, the champagne sprayed, cigar smoke swirled and beer shot in all directions. The players went wild — their dancing, singing and celebrating told the story about how difficult the past three seasons have been.
« I think everyone knew tonight nothing was going to hold us back, » Mitchell said. « We were all going to do this for each other. That’s the difference. »
Mitchell, centre, sprays champagne in the dressing room as Calgary celebrates its Grey Cup victory. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
Changing the narrative
There were times throughout the game the Stamps could have faltered or went « here we go again. »
Mitchell threw two first-half interceptions and Calgary let Ottawa stay in the game. The score was 14-11 Calgary with time ticking down before halftime — but it felt like the Stamps should have been leading by much more.
Then Calgary punt returner Terry Williams changed the story for a team that so badly needed a big play in a Grey Cup game.
Williams caught the Ottawa punt at his own 23 yard line with 20 seconds left and started to rumble on the icy turf. Players had trouble with their footing all throughout the game — Williams did too at the beginning of his run. He braced himself, got his feet under him and never looked back.
Williams ran straight to the end zone. His 97-yard punt-return touchdown was the longest in Grey Cup history. More importantly, it swung the momentum back to Calgary — something they just couldn’t do in the previous two title games.
Watch highlights of Calgary’s Grey Cup victory over Ottawa:
After back-to-back Grey Cup defeats, Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders rode off to a 27-16 win over Ottawa, avenging their loss to the Redblacks in the 2016 championship game. 2:49
« I wanted to show the world what I could do, » Williams said. « That field is horrible. It was slippery. I couldn’t wear the cleats I wanted to.
Williams gave the Stamps a 21-11 lead going into halftime and instilled confidence in a team so fragile from two previous Grey Cup defeats.
« We said all week there’s no way we’re going to lose this game. We weren’t going to choke. »
Most Outstanding Canadian
Resilience is what the Stampeders preached all season long. Calgary wanted to be a team that fought through adversity and found ways to win.
Lemar Durant needed to be resilient when it mattered most. He dropped two easy passes for the Stampeders early in the game and looked shaken.
But Mitchell never gave up on his receiver. And Durant wasn’t about to drop the ball a third time.
He made a spectacular leaping catch and dove into the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter to give the team a 14-3 lead.
« Bo trusted me, threw it up and I made the play, » Durant said.
« Being the competitor I am, those drops hurt. It’s hard for me to get those drops out of my head. But then at the same time I worked way too hard to get here and let that affect me. »
You always dream of winning championships but to get it done is awesome … We were going to die on that field if we had to.– Lemar Durant
Durant rebounded after those first two drops, catching the next four passes thrown his way. He finished the game with 30 receiving yards, along with 22 rushing, and was named Most Outstanding Canadian.
« You always dream of winning championships but to get it done is awesome, » Durant said.
« We were going to die on that field if we had to. »
Sweet victory for Calgary coach
As the party spilled into the locker room, head coach Dave Dickenson was in the middle of it all.
He was doused with champagne, cracked opened a beer and then sprayed a bunch of his players. His relief, happiness and emotion were clearly evident as he celebrated with his players.
« There’s been a lot of frustrated guys these last few years, » Dickenson said. « It felt like we had to get it done and we did. »
Head coach Dave Dickenson gets drenched with champagne. <a href= »https://twitter.com/hashtag/GreyCup?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw »>#GreyCup</a> <a href= »https://t.co/C7hN1xBgH7″>pic.twitter.com/C7hN1xBgH7</a>
This was Dickenson’s first Grey Cup win as a head coach and his third consecutive appearance — but the previous two trips have haunted him. The former quarterback won Cups before as a player and lost them too, but the defeat last year to Toronto was the worst ever for him.
« Last year was the hardest loss of my life. Player or coach, » he said. « I didn’t know if we’d get back and I really didn’t want to think what three losses in a row would feel like.
Reid pointed out that there are now some areas in the province where a number of breweries are within walking distance of each other. For example, a craft brew hub in Calgary called the “barley belt” contains seven different breweries within a seven-kilometre stretch.
She believes there will be more brewing destinations in the coming year and added that Alberta consumers will be the driving force behind any continued industry growth.
“Buying local is a huge thing… get to know your local breweries and really support them that way,” Reid said.
About a dozen people walked through the St. Jacques Escarpment eco-territory in celebration of the city’s move to save the area, as well as plans to build a pedestrian walkway over the Turcot Interchange.
“We’re celebrating. We’re having a walk and we’re doing a potluck,” Lisa Mintz said.
Mintz is an activist with Sauvons La Falaise, a group advocating for the protection of the escarpment. The group cried foul when they found out the walkway was floated by Transports Quebec due to its estimated $40 million cost.
But in June, the city and the provincial government announced that the pedestrian bridge would be part of the Turcot plans.
The walkway will link the boroughs of LaSalle, Lachine, the Sud-Ouest and Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.
“All we need to do is connect west to Meadowbrook and that can be done when the Saint-Pierre interchange is being rebuilt,” Mintz said. “And then we have bike paths to take us to Mount-Royal, we have a green belt for Montreal.”
“This is so self-evident and simple and it doesn’t even cost anything because we’re not asking anybody to buy anything,” Mintz added.
“The infrastructure is being rebuilt right now — this is the time to do it and we can have what Montreal really, really needs.”
The City of Montreal’s vision for the park and walkway.
City of Montreal
Also part of the plan is turning the St. Jacques Escarpment into a “grand park,” which includes adding 30 hectares on the Turcot yards to the green space. “That was the exciting thing that I didn’t even know about,” Mintz said.
The move would protect wetlands and wooded areas, one of the reasons Mintz and her group mobilized.
Churchillians are getting ready to celebrate the completion of repairs to their community’s lifeline.
The Town of Churchill in Manitoba said in a statement Sunday morning that after slightly more than a month of work, washouts on the Hudson Bay Railway between Gillam and Churchill have been repaired.
There’s still work to be done before rail service resumes, and it’s not clear whether the line will be operational before winter arrives.
Nonetheless, residents say news the last washout had been fixed is a big cause to celebrate.
« To us, it’s a miracle and we’re so, so happy that this company took over and they actually got onto the rail line right away and started fixing it right away. It’s amazing. It’s a great crew, » said Rhoda de Meulles, a Churchill resident who owns the town’s hardware store with her husband.
When the track can handle service vehicles — expected to happen in the next few days, according to rail line owners Arctic Gateway — crew members will make it to Churchill.
de Meulles said when they do, the town will hold a day-long festival to celebrate and thank them.
« People are just ecstatic, » said Joe Stover, a longtime Churchill resident, who called the news a significant milestone for the community.
‘Felt like we were kept hostage’
de Meulles said when the rail line shut down, she felt trapped in her own community.
« We always felt like we were being kept hostage because we couldn’t do anything — couldn’t go anywhere, couldn’t see family, nothing, but at least now we know that something is going to happen. »
« We have a lot to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving weekend as the final washout has been repaired allowing the test vehicles and crews to pass to Churchill to continue the surfacing and rail repairs beyond the washouts, » said Murad Al-Katib, a spokesperson for the Arctic Gateway Group that owns the rail line.
Al-Katib said the conglomerate remains hopeful weather conditions will remain favourable. A statement on the homepage of the group’s website makes it clear it’s still possible testing and maintenance of the line may not be completed before winter — meaning service on the line wouldn’t be restored until the spring.
That would be another blow to people living in Churchill who’ve had to cope with higher prices for food and other goods that have had to be flown into the community since the winter melt last year washed out the rail line. A mini food bank for people struggling to make ends meet is still open in de Meulles’ store.
« It’s been very very hard. It’s been hard on trying to bring freight in. It’s been hard on your mind. It’s been hard on our body. You wake up in the morning, you don’t know what’s going to happen today. You don’t know if you’re going to get good news or bad news, » she said.
Even if the rail line isn’t up and running until next spring, de Meulles and Stover agreed knowing there’s a plan to have it functional in the new year is better than what they were facing a year ago.
Joe Stover, a longtime Churchill resident, said it’s a significant milestone for the community. (Submitted by Joe Stover)
« I feel a lot better going into this winter than I did last winter. Last winter there was no certainty, everything was up in the air and it was definitely a lot more negative feelings going into last winter, » Stover said.