Mr. Speaker, this year during Black History Month we mark the anniversary of the act that abolished the slave trade in the British Empire. Canadians played a critical role within the British Empire beginning in 1793 by passing laws that began the abolition of slavery in Upper Canada, helping to establish the Underground Railroad.
This month is a time to reflect on the contributions that black Canadians have made at the forefront of Canada's successes as a nation in so many fields at home and abroad.
In the past weeks we have seen a unique and long overdue celebration of a man from my native province of New Brunswick, Willie O'Ree, the first black man to play in the NHL.
Willie dropped the puck at the all star game this past weekend. The Boston Bruins honoured him in January at a celebration marking 50 years since his first NHL game. He was recently honoured in his hometown of Fredericton, New Brunswick, with its newest arena being named Willie O'Ree Place.
I will be celebrating Black History Month in Hamilton at the John C. Holland awards in honour of the Hamilton man by the same name who was the first African Canadian to win an award for his humanitarian work.