Donna Paris and David Ofori Zapparoli, Installation view of I am Black History: Our Stories, Our Voices, Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, 2022.Photography by Charles Cousins, courtesy of the Art Gallery of Alberta.
I Am Black History explores the unseen, unknown and undocumented history of African Canadians. The goal is to expand the breadth and depth of knowledge and reorient commonly-held historic narratives of African Canadians (used here to include people who identify as West Indian, Black Canadian and/or multi-racial with African heritage).
The result of the misconceptions and omissions of our visibility and participation in the common Canadian narrative has, in part, contributed to the anti-Black racism that has become entrenched in Canadian society. This project collects and animates oral histories of African Canadians through audio recordings and photographs that connect faces to the personal anecdotes of the contributing individuals.
This installation includes narratives from Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and several Ontario communities. Much more is known about Black history in these parts of the country. Recently, we have been learning more about the Black presence in Western and Northern Canada. While this is the first physical installation of the project, we see this as the starting point for a more geographically inclusive version that will include all the provinces and territories of Canada. In future installations, we hope to make space for the public to add their own voices through recordings of their stories and those of their ancestors.
You can hear podcast episodes from some of the Western Canadian participants below:
Organized by the Art Gallery of Alberta.