Statement by Premier Dennis King for Black History Month
Hon. Dennis King, Premier of Prince Edward Island issued the following statement for Black History Month:
“February is Black History Month. It is an opportunity to learn about, celebrate and honour the achievements and contributions of Black people throughout our shared history, both in PEI and worldwide. It’s also an important reminder for us all to reflect on past events and to take stock of where systemic racism continues to exist in our communities so that we can work together to create positive change.
The first Black people on the Island were brought as slaves in the 18th century by Loyalists. Around 1810, a neighbourhood was created in a marshy and undesirable part of Charlottetown. The Bog was settled by Black slaves who had been freed. It was mainly along Rochford Street from Euston to Kent streets, and included Rochford Square. The community grew to 200 members at its peak. Residents of the Bog mainly worked domestic or labour-intensive jobs, such as building city streets, sweeping chimneys and loading and unloading vessels at the city waterfront. Black people have contributed much to the Island. Some very successful residents from the past include heavyweight champion boxer George Godfrey and the West End Rangers, a Black hockey team led by four of the Mills brothers.
We all have an individual responsibility to learn from the heritage, important events and accomplishments of our Island’s Black community through the years. Education helps us to better understand the issues we still face today, and to respect the historical and cultural impact the community has had on our society.
To ensure there are no barriers to participation and contribution in PEI, we remain dedicated to working hard to support our racialized communities so they can thrive. As we continue to work with the Anti-Racism Table, the Government of PEI continues to confront issues of racism and discrimination.
There are various community events being organized by the Black Cultural Society of PEI for Black History Month, including While Black exhibition tours, panel discussions, luncheons, movie nights and much more.
I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to participate and learn more about the Black community in Prince Edward Island.”
Office of the Premier