Teachers Lesson Plans

People of African Descent


  • Mathieu Da Costa was a navigator and interpreter of African descent who worked for the French and the Dutch during the explorations of the "Atlantic world" including the St. Lawrence River, in the late 1500s and early 1600s.

Illustration: Canadian Heritage
Reproduced with permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2003


  • The Slave Trade is abolished in Canada.

Carrie Mae Weems
From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, 1995
dye coupler prints under etched glass in wood frames stained black
67.9 x 57.7 x 2.1 cm each (integral frame); image: 45.8 cm diam. (each)


  • American Civil War, a conflict between the northern and southern states in which the economics and morality of an enslaved labour force was a key issue.

Timothy H. O'Sullivan
Guard Mount, Headquarters of the Army of the Potomac 1864
albumen silver print
17.4 x 22.4 cm


  • Discovery of Tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt. Artists become interested in depicting men and women of African descent.

Maxime Du Camp
Middle Egypt. The Sphinx 1852
salted paper print
15.5 x 20.8 cm


  • First Negro History week to honour achievements of people of African descent in science, medicine, sports, literature and the visual and performing arts.



In the 1930s, railway porters emerged as leaders in African Canadian communities. Through their unions, such as the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the Order of Sleeping Car Porters, they worked to remove employment injustice/discrimination against Blacks and to gain employment fairness.


  • 200,000 people march for Black civil rights in Washington.
  • President John F. Kennedy assassinated.

President Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy arrive at Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963
Photo: Free-Stock-Photos.com. NARA


  • President Johnson begins massive military intervention in Vietnam.
  • Black voting rights march in Alabama, 78 Blacks injured.
  • Six-day Black riot in Los Angeles, 34 killed.

President Lyndon Johnson and General William Westmoreland with troops in Vietnam
Photo: Free-Stock-Photos.com. NARA


  • Black Civil rights leader Martin Luther King assassinated. Rioting erupts in 62 cities in the United States

Martin Luther King addresses a civil rights rally in Washington, D.C.
Photo: Free-Stock-Photos.com. NARA


  • In December of 1995, the Parliament of Canada officially recognized February as Black History Month, following a motion introduced by the first African Canadian woman elected to Parliament, Jean Augustine, P.C., M.P. of Etobicoke-Lakeshore in Ontario and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.


  • The Mathieu Da Costa Challenge was launched by the Department of Canadian Heritage, to celebrate the contribution of Aboriginal peoples and Canadians of all ethnic and racial backgrounds to the building of Canada.

Illustration: Canadian Heritage
Reproduced with permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2003