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About Us

Founded in 1978, the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS), is the organization in Canada that is at the forefront in the celebration of Black history and heritage with a demonstrated record in the study, preservation and promotion of Black history in Ontario. The OBHS is also the only Ontario Provincial Heritage Organization of the Ministry of Culture devoted to Black history and heritage.

We are the organization responsible for initiating the formal celebration of February Black History Month at all levels of government in Canada due to our yearlong efforts to extend this celebration. (i.e. The first formal declaration of February as Black history month with the City of Toronto in 1979; with the Province of Ontario in 1993 and for the entire country, being declared nationally effective December 1995).

OBHS Board of Directors

President: Nikki Clarke
First Vice President: Kathy Grant
Second Vice President: Paulette Kelly
Treasurer: Dorothy Abbott
Membership: Sally Houston
George Carter
Mawuli Chai
Vernon Hendrickson
Spider Jones
Rochelle Williams

Successes and Accomplishments

1979 Initiated the first formal celebration of Black History Month in Canada with the City of Toronto.
1984 Produced the first Canadian Black History film "A Proud Past, A Promising Future". This film is an half-hour educational video with a comprehensive Teacher's Guide to assist educators in the classroom.
1987 In collaboration with the City of Toronto, produced the first free standing travelling Black History exhibition in Canada called "Black History in Early Ontario".
1993 Initiated the first formal celebration of Black History Month in the Province of Ontario.
1993 Created "African Canadian Recipients of the Order of Canada" poster.
1996 Spearheaded the Federal declaration of Black History Month throughout Canada.
1996 Initiated the formal declaration of August 1st as Emancipation Day in the City of Toronto, Metropolitan Toronto and Ottawa.
1996 Initiated the formal celebration of Kwanzaa in the City of Toronto and Metropolitan Toronto.
1997 Produced five Black History Public Service Announcements in the summer of 1997.
2001 Launched Black History website in February of 2001.
  Promoted the hanging of the restored portrait of W.P. Hubbard, Ontario's first major Black politician in Toronto's New City Hall and the subsequent plaque unveiling at his former home.
  Assisted in the unveiling of an historical plaque commemorating Josiah Henson and the Down Settlement in Dresden, Ontario.
  Produced Freedom Fest '88, a Festival of Black Culture and Heritage in cooperation with Harbourfront Corporation.
Other successes include:
  • An award-winning website on Black History in Ontario that is accessed by members of the public across Canada and has given higher profile to the achievements of Black Ontarians at a national level.
  • Rosa and Raymond Parks Insititute for Self Development where 10 of our young people met Rosa Parks and participated in Pathways to Freedom across the US and Canada
  • National media coverage with Gospel 2000, when we received $80,000 from the Millennium Fund and organized a province-wide tour of gospel singing to highlight the important role of gospel as a foundation of much of today's music industry and to highlight the talent of Black Ontarians.
  • Invited as guest speaker to the American Genealogical Society conference for 10,000 delegates
  • Invited as guest speaker to the Model UN at McGill University for 13,000 delegates.
  • Convinced the National Society of Black Engineers to hold their next conference in Toronto, with an anticipated investment in Ontario of $20 million (US).
  • Selected to participate in a 10 day Bi-National Charette and Field Study on the Underground Railroad tour and international study trip
  • The Ungerground Railroad Museum
  • Created an exhibit in co-operation with Parks Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Culture that is currently on display at Black Creek Pioneer Village
  • Contributed to The Buxton National Historic Site and Museum in Buxton, Ontario and Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Ontario
  • Participated in the creation of the African exhibit slated for the new Michael Lee Chin Crystal Wing
  • Served on the final selection committee for the Mathieu Da Costa Challenge, a national student essay and art program created in response to our Black History Month initiative
  • In recognition of its contribution to documenting Black history in the Toronto area and due to our heritage advocacy, the OBHS was awarded two-thirds of the public art fund for museum actualization by the City of Toronto in 2004 ($130,000)
  • The OBHS won the Planet Africa Award in November 2004 and was presented with a special honour award at the 90th anniversary of the Association for the Study of African Life and History (ASALH), which reached 700 delegates, in Buffalo on October 2005
  • Presented Multiple Lenses Voices to over 400 delegates from the Diaspora Conference of the James Robinson Johnson Chair in Black Studies at Dalhousie University in October 2005; a book of the presentations is to be published shortly for national distribution
  • Successfully advocated Toronto District School Board for the continued observance of February as Black History Month
  • Awarded Ontario Trillium Foundation Grant in 2007
  • Awarded Roots of Freedom Grant in 2007
  • Received the African-Canadian Achievement Award in 2007

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