Statement from Premier Pillai on Black History Month

Premier Ranj Pillai has issued the following statement:

“Today marks the start of Black History Month when we celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians and remember the ongoing challenges and racialized discrimination that Black people endure.

“The theme of Black History Month this year is Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build. I encourage Yukoners to learn about Black heritage in the territory. Take for example Lucille Hunter, who came to the Yukon during the Gold Rush and was the first woman to be granted honorary membership of the Yukon Order of Pioneers, and Yukon miner Peter Risby, who in 2022 was the first Black person ever to be inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame.

“All of us owe a great deal to the Black soldiers who worked on the construction of the Alaska Highway during the Second World War, giving us the north-south route that is still so crucial to our lives here in the Yukon today.

“The Yukon Archives is one place you can go to find out more about Black history and heritage. The Hidden Histories Society Yukon website is another fascinating resource. The society began when founding members were searching for information on Black history in the territory.

“In Canada, Black History Month began in Toronto in 1979. The House of Commons recognized February as Black History Month in 1995 and then in 2008 the first Black man appointed to the Senate, Senator Donald Oliver, introduced the Motion to Recognize Contributions of Black Canadians and February as Black History Month. The motion received unanimous approval and was adopted on March 4, 2008. Black History Month has been a national celebration ever since.

“All these years later, with racism still too prevalent in our society and systems, let’s each do what we can to create equity and foster more understanding and inclusivity. Just as we should celebrate and remember the contributions of Black communities all year round –  not only in February – we should also be mindful that simply not being racist is not enough. We must be anti-racist. This means not being passive and speaking out when we witness any form of racial discrimination.

“We’re blessed in the Yukon with a diverse, multicultural community. Let’s never take the territory’s rich, creative and enterprising society for granted.”

Media contact 

Renée Francoeur
Cabinet Communications

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