Learning about the Underground Railroad is one thing, but there’s a rich and complicated background at play when it comes to Black Canadians in history. In BLK: An Origin Story, creators Jennifer Holness and Sudz Sutherland bring a 4-part documentary series on Black Canadian history to your TV. Looking at four different regions in Canada, experts talk about how Black people came to Canada and how that history hasn’t been covered properly, if at all.
From Nova Scotia to Ontario, the series sheds light on three separate migrations of Black people to Canada, the influence of jazz and Black culture in Quebec, and crushes the myth that there aren’t any Black people in Vancouver by highlighting the rich community once known as Hogan’s Alley and the bi-racial Governor James Douglas, who fostered Black migration to the province in the 1800s.
With each episode, scholars, generations of Black Canadians and Black politicians talk about the significance of historical erasure and how it has affected the knowledge of the average Canadian. We see museums across Canada with displays of important Black Canadians like Ontario’s John “Daddy” Hall, who had a long life fighting for freedom, the connection between Black and Indigenous Canadians, and so much more. The four episodes show how Canada grew as a country with the contributions of Black Canadians, the real story that becomes an education in Canadian history—missing for far too long.