York University Libraries | Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections online exhibits

The Black & African-Caribbean community in Canada

During the late 1960s the rate of immigration from the Caribbean to Canada increased. This was largely due to changes to Canada’s immigration policy in 1967 which allowed a point system based on skill and education instead of country of origin or race. Unfortunately the enumeration of Canadians of African-descent has been inconsistent due to changing terminology used.  Pre-1971 African Canadians were only listed under “Negroes”.   The 1961 Canadian Census listed 32, 127 Negroes living in Canada. In 1971, the Census counted 34, 445 Negroes and 28, 025 West Indian (as cited in Walker 2006).  The 1981 Census allowed for the first time  more specific ethnic designations than in the past.  During the 1970s  racial tensions increased in tandem to  the increasing number of racialized immigrants in Canada; particularly in urban cities such as Montreal and Toronto.  United by their racialized identity as “black” and their shared experience of racial discrimination, the diverse black community (West Indians, Africans, Canadian-born), became more politicized and community organizing ensued.  The large number of blacks in Canada, most settling in Montreal and Toronto, the growing black middle-class and the social problems encountered by blacks, resulted in the formation of several black organizations. These included the:

Many of the goals of these organizations included developing the black community in Canada and advocating for the civil rights of blacks as attempted to address social issues concerning blacks. Jean Augustine was at the ground level and was very active in a number of these organizations.

The following selection of political buttons was created by Caribbean and black community organizations or are buttons reflecting Caribbean and black culture in Toronto, Ontario and Canada.

Calliste, A. (1995). The influence of the civil rights and black power movement in Canada. Race, Gender & Class, 2(3), 123-142.

Hill, L. (1996). Women of vision: The story of the Canadian Negro Women's Association, 1951-1976. Toronto, ON: Umbrella Press.

Walker, A. W. S. G. ( 2006 ). African Canadians: Arrival and Settlement. In Encyclopedia of Canada’s peoples. Retrieved from http://www.multiculturalcanada.ca/Encyclopedia/A-Z/a16/3

The Black & African-Caribbean community in Canada