News Story

Commemorating 25 Years of Black History Month


This year marks the 25th anniversary of Black History Month in Canada, and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are commemorating Black history in meaningful ways. Here are 25 ways they have engaged:

  • Catherine Jarvis (Montreal, Quebec) is posting historical information, music and other posts from local and international Black people. Her focus is to learn something new every day to help understand their lived experience.
  • Annette Fraser (Victoria, British Columbia) encourages all to watch a movie, listen to a podcast or read a book that increases knowledge about Black excellence in Canada.
  • Many have registered for RootsTech Connect, which is presented by FamilySearch, a family history service provided by the Church. One of the keynote speakers is Sharon Leslie Morgan, a writer, genealogist and founder of Our Black Ancestry. Feb. 25–27, 2021, RootsTech Connect is offering more than 300 free virtual breakout sessions from countries all over the world.
  • Telia, Lanea, Kalea and Chris Lafontaine (Regina, Saskatchewan) learned the story behind the hymn “Amazing Grace,” then performed it for their parents.
  • Merrilee and Dan Fraser (Burlington, Ontario) watched a virtual musical presentation about Africville, an early settlement in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The presentation was sponsored by One Burlington, a group dedicated to creating and facilitating opportunities for people of different backgrounds.
  • The Quebec Latter-day Saints Facebook page has been posting interviews. From a recent post: ''To celebrate Black History Month, we asked a few Latter-day Saints in Quebec (Jonathan Estrade, Valérie Saintonge Duplessis and Lawanda Michelle Fraser) to tell us about a family member who had a big impact in their life.''
  • Vanna Parisi (Toronto, Ontario) serves as a FamilySearch service missionary. She is searching for and finding ancestors of selected friends of African descent to help them advance their own family history.
  • John and Janet MacLennan (Halifax, Nova Scotia) report, “The Black community has always been an important part of our lives in Nova Scotia.” With so much closed because of COVID-19, recent learning has been online or through CBC Radio interviews of local Black contributors.
  • Allison Smith (Toronto, Ontario) is reading Steal Away Home by Karolyn Smardz Frost, the story of 15-year-old fugitive slave Cecelia Reynolds’ journey to Toronto through the Underground Railroad.
  • Family history consultants have committed to the indexing and review of the online FamilySearch project “Caribbean — Church Records (1748–1979),” making records available to Canadian families.
  • In 2019, the Regina Saskatchewan Stake organized a Black history event where 400 people ate delicious Jamaican food, enjoyed African and Caribbean dances, listened to performances of the Black anthem and “Amazing Grace” and learned about 10 Black inventors, as researched and presented by youth.
  • Larry and Kathleen Carter (Calgary, Alberta) are commemorating Black History Month and furthering their own family history by exploring the story of their niece’s husband, whose family immigrated to Canada from Burundi.
  • Charmaine Rose Akantu (Toronto, Ontario) committed to reading prophetic messages from Church general conferences regarding issues of race and God’s love for all His children.
  • Grace Saunders-Hogberg (Guelph, Ontario) is interviewing her 93-year-old father about his contribution to Ontario Church history. Walter Saunders immigrated from Jamaica in 1968 and joined the Church in 1977. He and his wife, Tina (now deceased), served in the Toronto Ontario Temple presidency from 1999 to 2002 as a counsellor and an assistant matron.
  • Karen Shirley (Langley, British Columbia) used social media to share early Canadian Black history from Oakville, Ontario.
  • Chris Lafontaine and his mom, Kamakaliulani, (Regina, Saskatchewan) celebrated Black History Month by choosing a Caribbean restaurant for their destination of choice. He said, “It was so flavourful and different than anything I’ve ever eaten before.”
  • Mervyn and Shelagh Marchenski (Winnipeg, Manitoba) read about Dr. Tom Casey, the former Blue Bomber and first Black Hall of Famer, as written about in the Free Press. They followed up with additional research.

Additional ways to celebrate Black History Month:

  • Ask a friend to tell you about one of their heroes of African heritage.
  • Call a Black leader to acknowledge and thank them for their leadership and service.
  • Visit some Black history sites in your area.
  • Learn the history behind the new Canada Post Black history stamps.

Russell M. Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stated in October 2020 general conference:

Brothers and sisters, please listen carefully to what I am about to say. God does not love one race more than another. His doctrine on this matter is clear. He invites all to come unto Him, ‘black and white, bond and free, male and female’ (2 Nephi 26:33). I assure you that your standing before God is not determined by the color of your skin. Favor or disfavor with God is dependent upon your devotion to God and His commandments and not the color of your skin.

I grieve that our Black brothers and sisters the world over are enduring the pains of racism and prejudice. Today I call upon our members everywhere to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice. I plead with you to promote respect for all of God’s children. (“Let God Prevail”)

One way we can promote respect for our Black brothers and sisters is to learn about and appreciate their wonderful contributions to both Canadian and Church history.

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