One prominent figure in Black Canadian history is the honorable Jean Augustine, who was the first Black Canadian woman to be elected to Canada’s House of Commons. In Parliament, she championed the rights of women, people of color, and low-income Canadians and fought to protect their rights. Her dedication to social justice earned her a place as a Member of the Order of Canada. Because of Jean Augustine, Canadians now celebrate Black History Month in February.

Another Black Canadian woman who made a huge impact in Canadian history was Viola Davis Desmond. Viola Desmond is often compared to Rosa Parks, a civil rights activist from the United States, because of the historical moment when she refused to move from the “whites-only” section of the Roseland Theater in Nova Scotia. Desmond was even charged with tax evasion for not paying the extra one cent for a “whites-only” movie ticket which she challenged in the Supreme Court with support from her community. Because of her resilience, Desmond unintentionally sparked a national movement against segregation in Canada.

Finally, Mary Ann Shadd Cary was a Black Canadian who made significant contributions to the Canadian education system and to the abolitionist movement. Her family was involved in the Underground Railroad and she founded a racially diverse school. She also went on to become the first black female newspaper editor in all of North America with The Provincial Freeman. Her advocacy was instrumental in securing voting rights for black men, and she continued to fight for black women’s suffrage.

In sum, all of these women are significant figures that have helped improve the lives of Canadians, and their legacies continue to inspire today.