BCNU Celebrates Black History Month

February 01, 2024
Black nurses have made inspiring contributions throughout Canada’s history

February is Black History Month. It is a time to honour the rich histories, contributions, achievements and legacy of Black people in Canada. Throughout the month, BCNU is encouraging all members to reflect on the many contributions Black nurses and other health-care workers have made to the country’s health-care system.

The contributions and accomplishments of Black nurses make up an inspiring story of unwavering dedication to the provision of health-care services in Canada. BCNU recognizes the realities of a health-care system rooted in overtly racist, discriminatory ways of knowing, thinking and being – all of which have been shaped by Canada’s colonial history – and acknowledges this past and its lingering effects on present day health-care environments. Today, and every day, BCNU honours the work of Black nurses and takes this opportunity to recommit itself to advocating for an anti-racist, culturally safe health-care system that meaningfully promotes the principles of diversity, equity and genuine inclusion for all.

Black nurses in Canada have a rich history, but many of their contributions and struggles have been undocumented, downplayed or forgotten. While the first nursing school in Canada opened in 1874 and the first baccalaureate program in 1919, Black people were not permitted to attend nursing schools in Canada until the late 1940s. Bernice Redmon broke through the barrier and became the first of many Black nurses to practise in Canada.

In 2014, the UN General Assembly proclaimed the forthcoming decade as the International Decade for People of African Descent, an announcement later recognized by the Canadian government in 2018. The purpose of the proclamation was to “strengthen national, regional and international cooperation in relation to the full enjoyment of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights by people of African descent, and their full and equal participation in all aspects of society.” The theme for the international decade is People of African descent: recognition, justice and development.

Click the links below to see listings for upcoming Black History Month events happening throughout BC:

Learn more about Black History Month and other important dates on the BCNU Calendar of Observances.

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