With January nearing its end, it’s time to turn towards February, the month of Valentine’s Day, Family Day, and Black History Month. From supporting Black-owned businesses and creators to enjoying new art and live performances, there are quite a few options to choose from. Without further ado, here are some great ways to celebrate Black History Month in Vancouver this year.
We’re kicking things off with an ongoing series of movies and documentaries being shown at the VIFF Centre! This year, you can check out two series: Icons and Dispatches. The former spotlights the accomplishments of American movie stars like Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, and Chadwick Boseman, and the latter takes on a more documentarian lens, looking at social justice work by James Baldwin and Camille Billops.
You can also catch a showing of two of the most acclaimed movies last year: Alice Diop’s Saint-Omer and Margaret Brown’s Descendant.
When: Showtimes throughout February
Where: 1181 Seymour Street
Cost: 3 ticket pack for $33
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The VMF Winter Arts Festival is officially returning to the city this February, and it will feature a ton of public art, live performances, pop-up dance parties (check out the VMF After Dark X Afroqueer YVR rave on February 19th!), and more by BIPOC and marginalized artists.
The central Winter Arts Hub will be located at the North Plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery (šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square), which will serve as the festival’s nucleus. As for elsewhere downtown, the festival will transform the area into an open-air art gallery and live stage for 11 days.
When: February 16th to February 26th
Where: North Plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery (šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square)
This month, the Polygon Gallery is hosting a curated exhibit by Elliott Ramsey celebrating the Black community and identities in Canada. The As We Rise exhibit features more than 100 photographs from the Wedge Collection – the largest privately owned collection championing Black artists in the country.
From African diasporic culture to the civil rights movement, the new exhibit (organized by Aperture) will feature powerful photography by a number of talented artists.
When: February 24th to May 14th
Where: 101 Carrie Cates Court, North Vancouver
Cost: By donation
Celebrating Black history and excellence shouldn’t be confined to just one month, which is why we’re including this year’s AFAM African Fashion Week. There will be a variety of designers participating in the show, alongside live performances from local artists.
When: March 18th
Where: 162 West 1st Avenue, #203
In addition to online and in-person educational courses, VPL offers guests all kinds of free workshops, career services, family-friendly activities, book clubs, film screenings, and more. And this month, there are 8 courses & events at branches across the city to check out, ranging from “Black Joy and Achievement in Cinema” to “Building Black British Columbia with Social Media.”
Where: See our picks above
Support Black-owned businesses
Before we jump into some local businesses in Vancouver, we thought we’d share this global directory, which lists hundreds of Black-owned businesses in BC, making it easy to navigate to any business or service you might be looking for. From restaurants to home decor – it’s all there.
As we all know, Vancouver is a healthy city. And so holistic nutritionists help a lot of people keep up the hard work of remaining healthy. So if you’re looking for a holistic nutritionist we highly recommend checking out Sade, especially if you’re wanting to deepen your knowledge of gut health.
And while we’re on the topic of all things health and nutrition, we have to also mention Akeem Pierre. He has Rich Sol Foods which offers high-grade healing products from St. Lucia and also offers healing retreats in St. Lucia.
So we know that quarantine got a lot of you really hyped up to start working out or get back into it. And luckily Tori is an instructor at soul cycle! So if you want to keep up with people in the Vancouver fitness scene, Tori is definitely someone to watch. And be sure to take one of her classes when you can.
And back on the topic of fitness, Johny Daniel is the owner and coach at DyerFitness Inc. And his training space focuses on CrossFit. So he is another great option if you’re looking for someone to help you on your fitness journey.
And we have this list thanks to Kula Kitchen! Not only do they have amazing Afro-Vegan food but they also have one of the most comprehensive lists of black-owned businesses in Vancouver in their story tab. So we highly recommend you try their food and they have multiple options like meal prep, catering, and retail. And they deliver for free!
The name is pretty self-explanatory but Karibu makes beautiful handcrafted soaps from natural and local ingredients. And in the time of COVID-19, you can never have enough soap. Plus artisan soap is always an excellent gift so we highly recommend checking out Karibu Handcrafted Soaps.
This brand is a local brand that offers “naturally grown & direct-traded superfoods from Africa.”And their products are available at Loblaw, Whole Foods, Choices, Urban Fare & SaveOn. So be sure to look for Farafena products next time you’re doing a grocery run.
Organizations & resources
We think Canadian author Wayde Compton said it best: “There has been a Black community in Vancouver since before there was a Vancouver.” These community organizations not only serve to fill gaps in our knowledge, but help create stronger connections.
This non-profit raises funds to help support small Black-owned businesses throughout the province, hosting an array of programs and community events to help strengthen Black entrepreneurship in Canada.
This network connects communities across the province with information, supports, and training they need to combat racism in their own communities. On the website, you’ll find a mix of educational resources, outreach tools, and incident response protocols.
Last year, the Vancouver Black Library opened in the historic Hogan’s Alley in Strathcona thanks to the tireless efforts of Vancouver’s BIPOC community and beyond. In addition to brushing up on your knowledge of Hogan’s Alley, visitors can check out upcoming open mic nights and plenty of other fun social events.
Keep an eye out on their socials for more info on Black individuals and families in Vancouver in need this month, as the library has organized an e-transfer process through which funds will be distributed directly to those facing hardships.
This foundation connects participants with advocates and covers service fees so participants can access mental health care from Black service providers. Mental health resources and mutual aid are available under their “Resources” section – so be sure to check that out if you’re looking to support others financially, or seeking aid yourself.
This Vancouver-based organization offers a directory of BIPOC therapists and allied professionals to help support healing within the community. As well, their website lists various community resources, podcasts, and articles.
And there you have it. Just a few ways that you can commemorate Black History Month in Vancouver. Now it’s time to plan ahead, see a show, learn something new, and donate to a cause. Happy February!