Black History Month RollCall


Viola Davis Desmond (1914–1965) is the first Black person to serve as the Queen’s representative in the province of Nova Scotia and will be featured on the $10 bill, making her the first Canadian woman to be featured on a Canadian banknote.

 Jean Augustine

Jean Augustine, the first African-Canadian woman to be elected to the House of Commons and the woman who proposed motion before Parliament in 1995 to recognize February as Black History Month which was passed unanimously.

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Senator Anne Clare Cools is the first black female senator in North America, from Ontario. She founded one of Canada’s first women’s shelters, Women in Transition Inc. She was called Spiritual Mother of the Year, 1997, NA’AMAT Canada.


Yolande James, the first Black female Member of the National Assembly of Quebec, the youngest, as well as the first Black cabinet minister in Quebec history. Currently a political analyst at Radio-Canada & appears on the TV show Les EX.

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Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré born in Montréal was the first chair of Quebec’s Conseil des communautés culturelles et de l’immigration. The first Black Canadian to become dean of the Law Faculty at the University of Windsor. 

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Lori Seale-Irving born in Ottawa is the First Black female commissioned officer in the RCMP. Her career has included postings devoted to general duty policing, war crimes, marine security, Prime Minister’s protection & management support.

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Mary Ann Shadd Cary was the first woman in Canada to become a publisher, starting the Provincial Freeman in 1853. Earned her law degree at the end of the American Civil War & worked as a lawyer, teacher, lecturer, suffragist & publisher.

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Jully Ann Inderia Gordon, Canadian singer, songwriter, actor, TV personality. She is Canada’s Queen of R&B, also a Juno Award-winning R&B and soul singer-songwriter. In 2013, CBC Music named her one of the 25 Greatest Canadian Singers Ever.

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Dr. Pearleen Oliver was the first Black graduate of the New Glasgow High School in Nova Scotia & a significant figure in Nova Scotia for providing over 60 years of community involvement as a religious and human rights leader.

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Portia May White, the first Black Canadian concert singer to win international acclaim. Her voice was described “a gift from heaven,”. She was named a “person of national historic significance” by the Government of Canada in 1995.


Monica Gaylord, Black Canadian Pianist, harpsichordist who appeared with New Music Concerts in Toronto & on its 1977 European tour. In 1988, performed a series of 12 solo concerts for the Prologue to the Performing Arts in northern Ontario.

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Rachel Manley, Jamaican writer in verse and prose who is currently residing in Canada,daughter of former Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley. She won the Governor General's Award for her memoir Drumblair:Memories of a Jamaican Childhood.

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Dr. Rita Cox is recognized as a ‘Canadian icon’ who is a librarian by profession, renowned storyteller and admired as a leader in the community. Dr. Cox established “Cumbayah”, a festival of Black heritage and storytelling.


Linda Carvery, a musician who began her musical journey at the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church in Halifax. She has served as a President of the Congress of Black Women. She is a founding member of the Black Focus magazine. 

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Andrea Desiree Lewis is a Canadian actress and singer, best known for her portrayal of Hazel Aden in the long-running TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation. On September 20, 2005, her first album, Float Away, was released in Canada.


Daurene Elaine Lewis, was a Canadian politician and educator. She was the first black female mayor of Annapolis Royal in Canada. In 1994 Lewis was added to the Nova Scotia Black Cultural Centre Wall of Honour. 

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Sylvia D. Hamilton is a Nova Scotian filmmaker, writer and artist whose work explores the lives and experiences of people of African descent. Her special focus is on African Nova Scotians, and especially women. 


Mayann Elizabeth Francis was the 31st Lieutenant Governor of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, the director and CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission from 1999-2006. She has been recognized with Harry Jerome Award.


Wanda Thomas Bernard is a Canadian social worker and educator from East Preston, Nova Scotia. She is the first Black Canadian to have an academic tenure position and become a full professor at Dalhousie University.

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Salome Bey is an American-born Canadian singer-songwriter, composer, and actress. In 2005, she was made an honorary Member of the Order of Canada. She was known as "Canada's First Lady of Blues".

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Zanana Lorraine Akande is a former politician in Ontario, Canada. She was the first black woman elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and the first black woman to serve as a cabinet minister in Canada. 


Dayana M. Cadeau is a Canadian professional female bodybuilder. She is the most successful Canadian bodybuilder in the world, by being the only Canadian to win the Ms. Olympia lightweight & most successful bodybuilder of Haitian descent.


Quanteisha Benjamin, often referred to by the mononym Quanteisha, is a Canadian R&B singer. Her album single, "Stars", has won a Juno Award for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year.


Olive Marjorie Senior, a Jamaican poet, novelist, short story and non-fiction writer based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She was awarded the Musgrave Gold Medal awarded in 2005 by the Institute of Jamaica for her contributions to literature.

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Angella Taylor-Issajenko, a Canadian coach and former sprinter. She won an Olympic silver medal in the 4 x 100 metres relay in Los Angeles 1984. At Commonwealth Games she won seven medals, including the 100 metres title in Brisbane 1982.

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Shakura S'Aida is a Canadian blues and jazz vocalist, songwriter and actress. She is sometimes credited as simply Shakura. In 2013, she was nominated for a Blues Music Award in the 'Contemporary Blues Female Artist' category.

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Althea Prince is a Black Canadian author, editor and professor. Her novels and non-fiction essays are known for exploring themes of love, identity, the impact of migration, and finding a sense of belonging in Canada. 

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Frances-Anne Solomon is a British-Canadian filmmaker, writer, producer, distributor and entrepreneur. In 1993, she won a place on prestigious BBC Drama Directors Course. She ran her own company Leda Serene Films while working for the BBC.


Sylvia Sweeney, is a Canadian executive television producer and Olympian.She was a member of the 1976 Canadian Olympic basketball team.She is the founder of Elitha Peterson Productions Incorporated & International Performing Arts for All. 

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Donna-Michelle St. Bernard is a Canadian playwright and theatre director. She is a two-time nominee for the Governor General's Awards in 2011 and 2016. She is currently artistic director of New Harlem Productions.

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Tanika Charles, a Canadian soul and rhythm and blues singer, who released her full-length debut album Soul Run in 2016. Her music has been featured on HBO Canada’s Less Than Kind, Global's Rookie Blue, Citytv's Seed, and CTV’s Saving Hope.

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Addena Sumter-Freitag is a Canadian writer and performer. She is a seventh generation African Canadian. Canadian Literature noted that "she will undoubtedly become one of the most prominent poetic voices of Canada’s Black community".

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Pamela Claire Mordecai, a Jamaican-born poet, novelist, short story writer, scholar & anthologist who lives in Canada. Caribbean experience, both in the region and in the diaspora, continues to be an important preoccupation in her writing.

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