“As Canadians, it’s important to remember those who came before us, and the sacrifices they made to help build the country we have today. Central to our history and how we built our great democracy is the important contributions of Canadians of African and Caribbean descent.
“Black History Month provides all Canadians with the opportunity to learn more about the history of a community whose legacy stretches back to the origins of our country.
“While black Canadians have made significant contributions to all areas of Canadian life, this year we are focusing our celebrations on the contributions of black Canadians in law enforcement – both past and present pioneers.
“Among them is Devon Clunis, who became Canada’s first black Chief of Police last year. Mr. Clunis came to Canada from Jamaica when he was 12 years old. In 1987, he joined the Winnipeg Police Service, where he contributed to all aspects of the police force and was sworn in as Chief of Police last November.
“Pioneers from our past include Rose Fortune, who was born into slavery in 1774 and escaped to Annapolis, Nova Scotia, with her family in 1783. She was an entrepreneurial talent whose unique community presence earned her the unofficial title of ‘Canada’s first policewoman’, in recognition of her voluntary efforts to protect locals’ property on the wharves. In 1984, one of her descendents, Daurene Lewis, became the mayor of Annapolis and the first black mayor in Canada.
“Among other pioneers was Alton C. Parker, who joined the Windsor Police Service in 1942 as Windsor’s first black police officer. He was later promoted to the rank of Detective – making him the first black detective in Canada.
“These inspirational stories remind us that black Canadians have made significant contributions throughout our history.
“I encourage Canadians to explore these and other stories in more detail on our Black History Month website, which includes the Black History Virtual Museum: cic.gc.ca/blackhistorymonth.
“As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I invite all Canadians to participate in the festivities and events that will take place across the country this month in honour of black communities.”
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