Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute
Canada is a multicultural nation home to people of diverse backgrounds and races. It is this multiculturalism and the acceptance of those who are of different races, religions, and cultures, that I feel defines Canada as a whole. I can personally attest to this acceptance felt by new Canadians, for when I came to Canada at a young age, I felt nothing but acceptance from my schoolmates and my church members. Many who come to Canada often bring their expertise, talents, and abilities with them. These traits, if nurtured properly, are often used for the greater good, and for the betterment of society. In this essay, I will explain how black Canadians have helped to define Canada's diverse heritage and identity through their achievements and contributions to the broader society.
Like previously stated, Canada is called home to many people due to its acceptance of people of various backgrounds. The fact that Canada is officially bilingual and multicultural at the federal level emphasizes this point. Canada's acceptance of others and the country's freedom can be seen in the story of Josiah Henson. Henson was born into slavery, but later escaped to Canada in 1830. Four years later he founded the Dawn settlement, a community and a safe haven for fugitive slaves. Henson, along with his other associates, would later create the British-American Institute. The school provided general education to freed slaves of all ages. For his selfless and tireless work, Henson would later be honoured with a Canadian postage stamp. He was the first black Canadian to receive this honour. Due to his works, many other black Canadians were able to take refuge in Canada and also call it their home. Hence, Josiah Henson's dedication to helping others and his achievements in life showcase how black Canadians have helped to define Canada's diverse heritage and identity.
Canada is also home to brave people. Bravery is a common trait seen in many black Canadians who helped bring about change in Canada. This bravery is due to the fact that many black Canadian risked their own lives to help others, and to help break down the barrier of segregation. Carrie Best is a black Canadian that exemplifies this type of bravery. Best was born in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, and was a poet, author, journalist, and activist for black Canadians. In 1946, Best created the Clarion, one of Nova Scotia's first newspapers for black Canadians, and in 1954, she had her own radio program called The Quiet Corner. Best also lobbied for the province to repeal its segregation laws, and wrote columns speaking out against the conditions of native reserves and the discrimination against black property owners. These acts by Best show how committed she was to bringing about social change, not only for black Canadians, but also for other disadvantaged social groups. The fact that Best was also a black woman meant that the odds were against her, for women and black people were experiencing social injustice. Nevertheless, she was able to overcome adversity and create for herself a successful career in journalism and radio entertainment. Best's bravery is also shown by her will. She did not fear getting jailed, fined, or even killed. She chose instead to take a firm stance in what she believed was the right thing. Hence, Carrie Best's bravery, hard work, contributions to the betterment of society, and achievements as a black Canadian woman in the workforce demonstrates how black Canadians have helped to define Canada's diverse heritage and identity.
In conclusion, black Canadians have had a profound impact on Canadian society. Without the selfless actions, perseverance, contributions, and achievements of certain black Canadians, Canada as we know it would not be the same culturally rich, free, and multicultural country it is today. Though the contributions of some black Canadians may go unrecorded or unrecognized in historical documents, it is the actions and the sacrifices of these black Canadians that are everlasting. The achievements made by black Canadians also showcase a people who can achieve anything when given a chance and opportunity to cultivate their skills, talents, and abilities. These achievements range from the highest military honours to political and athletic achievements. Hence, black Canadians have helped to define Canada's diverse heritage and identity through their personal and occupational achievements and through their contributions to the bettering of society.
The essays submitted pursuant to the RBC® Black History Month Student Essay Competition and provided herein are the original work of the students who have entered the Competition. Royal Bank of Canada assumes no responsibility for material that is false, inaccurate or violates or infringes upon the rights of third parties, including privacy and intellectual property rights.