Mr. Speaker, today begins Black History Month, where we celebrate in a particular way the historic and present contributions of black Canadians. Canada has been richly blessed by these contributions.
Many of the first black Canadians came here to escape slavery. Upper Canada was the first jurisdiction in the British Empire to free slaves and legislate against slavery in 1793. In addition to our relatively early opposition to slavery, Canadians can take pride in the pivotal role we played in the fight against apartheid.
However, our relative success is not enough. Ongoing instances of racism continue to impact the lives of black Canadians. Conservatives are eager to work with colleagues in other parties and civil society to fight racism.
I would like to highlight the contributions of a few black Canadians in particular.
Lincoln Alexander was the first black member of Parliament, then cabinet minister. He was also a Conservative.
William Hall was the first black Canadian sailor, as well as the first black Canadian to receive the Victoria Cross.
Mary Ann Shadd was a well-known anti-slavery activist, and the first woman publisher in North America.
We applaud the past and continuing vital contributions of Canada's black community.