Honouring Black History Month

January 31, 2024

Every February, people in Canada are invited to participate in Black History Month festivities and events that honour the legacy of Black Canadians and their communities. The role of Black Canadians in Alberta’s social and legal history predates the province itself, and no figure has brought those contributions more sharply into focus in the public imagination than Violet King Henry. 

Born in Calgary in 1929, Violet was the first Black Canadian to obtain a law degree in Alberta, the first Black person admitted to the Alberta Bar and the first Black woman to become a lawyer in Canada in 1954. Her story has been celebrated in recent years as the significance of her achievements serves as inspiration to generations of lawyers in Alberta.  

Violet King Henry was recently featured on Historica Canada’s Canadian Heritage Minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the last year, King’s landmark role in Canada’s legal profession and society have been documented in Google Doodles, Canadian Heritage Minutes and a four-story-high mural in Calgary, as well as the renaming the plaza of Edmonton’s Federal Building to Violet King Henry Plaza in 2021.  

As we celebrate individual stories like Violet’s, we need to acknowledge that there are still many examples of the challenges facing Black lawyers and citizens in Alberta. We encourage you to engage with resources and events in person or online that explore the experience of Black lawyers and Albertans. 

Upcoming Black History Month Events 

  • Calgary Black Chambers Black History Month Dinner | Calgary | Feb. 9: The Calgary Black Chambers forges opportunities for Black professionals to further their professional development and give back to their community. 
  • A Conversation with Jason Mott on Hell of a Book | Calgary | Feb. 20: Mott’s recent work of fiction is deeply honest, at times electrically funny, and is a book that goes to the heart of racism, police violence, and the hidden costs exacted upon Black Americans and America as a whole. 
  • UNGANISHA – Woezo Africa | Calgary | Feb. 24: A 45-minute documentary that invites viewers on a rhythmic journey through the African diaspora influence on modern and contemporary dance.