February is Black History Month in Canada, and as a place that is known for its culture and diversity, Granville Island feels it’s important to honour and celebrate Black Canadians. Black History Month was originally founded in 1926 by American historian Carter G. Woodson as Negro History Week, which later evolved into Black History Month. Following petitions and movements started by the Ontario Black History Society started in the late 1970s, the Honourable Jean Augustine, Canada’s first black member of parliament, successfully pushed to have February named the same in Canada in 1995.
In November 2022, the Net Loft on Granville Island became home to a new tenant: UEL, which stands for Unity, Excellence, and Legacy, and is a retail outlet for the Black Business Association of British Columbia (BBABC). UEL is a co-op store that sells products created and manufactured by local black entrepreneurs. The BBABC supports Black entrepreneurs by helping them with setting up business plans, as well as advertising by adding them to their directory, which includes over 500 black-owned and operated businesses across Canada!
I spoke with Alitta Cadmus, who works at UEL, and is also a member of the BBABC. In 2020, she self-published a book of poems she co-wrote with her sister, and then published a book that her mother wrote. Friends and family encouraged her to start her own publishing business, and thanks to support she received from the BBABC, she’s doing a soft launch of her company, Capsonart Publishing, this month! I asked her what she thinks Canadians can do to support the Black community, and she suggested to pay attention to what’s happening; recognize that there is racism and inequality in our society, learn about Black Canadians and their history, and for Black people to share their stories and be vocal about their experiences.
Please join us in welcoming UEL to the Island!