FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued today by Nathalie Chiasson, chair of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, to mark Black History Month:

New Brunswickers are celebrating this month for the 20th time since 1996, when the House of Commons declared February to be Black History Month in Canada.

It is an opportunity for us to share and learn things in relation to the experience, contributions and achievements of Black people. I invite you to participate in the activities organized across the province. They underscore the important social progress we have made in accepting that all people should have the same rights and opportunities based on mutual respect for equality and human dignity.

I invite you to participate in the many activities being offered, including:

  • Talk and Tour, organized by PRUDE Saint John, which enables participants to visit various sites in the city that have made important contributions to the history of the Black community;
  • meetings in Campbellton and Dalhousie organized by a group called Konsalcan, including the screening of documentaries such as one about the life of Viola Desmond, which highlights the challenges faced by the Black community to advance equal rights in the face of segregation in Nova Scotia in the 1940s;
  • a screening of the film Selma and a discussion moderated by international students at the Shippagan campus of the Université de Moncton; and
  • a ceremony and round table organized by members of the Moncton campus of the Université de Moncton.

The month provides the opportunity to educate ourselves, to remember and to be aware of the historical and contemporary contributions of the Black community in New Brunswick, Canada and elsewhere.

Since 1967, the commission has protected and promoted the values associated with human rights, such as respect, appreciation for diversity and absence of discrimination. The commission will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2017, which will be a focal point for expanding recognition of the basic principle that all human beings are equal in dignity and rights.