Black persons are not a monolith.

There are Black communities shaped on account of slavery, erased of their historical past and ethnic id, Black diaspora from Africa, Caribbean and South America.

Edmonton is residence to a various vary of Black communities, from the earliest African-Individuals liable for the firsts within the metropolis to communities who got here later however made this place their very own.

For Black Historical past Month, Edmonton AM centered on 4 outstanding communities within the metropolis, highlighting their tradition, faith and language. 

Amal Mohamud is a first-generation Somali-Edmontonian who works within the media trade within the metropolis. (Amal Mohamud)


Alberta is residence to the biggest Somali-Canadian inhabitants exterior of Southern Ontario. In Edmonton they make up the biggest African neighborhood within the metropolis, regardless of being new immigrants to town. 

Somalis began coming to Canada as refugees and immigrants within the early 90s. In keeping with the 2016 Statistics Canada census, Edmonton was residence to greater than 9,000 Somalis. 

Culturally, Somalis are largely homogenous. The bulk are Muslim and communicate both Arabic, Somali or each. 

In Edmonton, the younger Somali neighborhood has seen presence in arts, activism and entrepreneurship. 

Timiro Mohamed is Edmonton’s youth poet laureate and a Somali-Edmontonian. (Submitted by Amna MQ)

Poetry is a big side of Somali tradition.

“Again residence we’re generally known as the nation of poets,” mentioned Amal Mohamud, a first-generation Somali-Edmontonian. “I do not suppose lots of people are acknowledging or are accustomed to our creative aspect of the neighborhood.”

Edmonton AM7:04Exploring Edmonton’s Somali neighborhood

For Black Historical past Month, we’re celebrating the varied voices inside Edmonton’s Black neighborhood 7:04

A variety of Edmonton’s poet laureates have been Somali, from the well-known Ahmed ‘Knowmadic’ Ali to Omar Farah and present youth poet laureate Timiro Mohamed. 

The Somali-Edmontonian neighborhood is prospering as a result of Somalis work arduous at being concerned and lifting others up, Mohamud mentioned. 

“We’re very well-connected,” she mentioned. “We’re all about supporting and serving to one another out.”

Deborah Dobbins’ mom, Mae, sits in entrance of the homestead home the place she grew up in Wildwood, Alberta, west of Edmonton. Wildwood was the province’s first established Black neighborhood. (Submitted by Deborah Dobbins)

African American

African Individuals escaping Jim Crow legal guidelines within the early 1900s had been the primary Black settlers to maneuver to the Prairies and make it residence. 

Though in present-day Edmonton, they make up a small proportion of the Black inhabitants, their historical past and contributions and lots of firsts are a big a part of town’s historical past.

Tanika Burlie, 29, is a social employee and second-generation African-American in Edmonton. (Submitted by Tanika Burlie)

The early African Individuals moved to Alberta from Oklahoma, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas after seeing commercials from the Canadian authorities for land. 

As a result of they’re descendants of slaves, their tradition is borrowed from the US, mentioned Deborah Dobbins, a third-generation African American and founding father of the Shiloh Centre for Multicultural Roots.

“We had been stolen from Africa, so once we had been within the U.S. we took on what we knew, and what we remembered,” she mentioned. 

“After which once we got here to Canada as Canadians, we eat the identical meals, communicate the identical language and put on the identical garments. We have no specific gown or language.”

The small neighborhood is working arduous to maintain its presence recognized as many imagine Edmontonians are unaware of their existence. 

“They’re not likely conscious of the African American and the truth that we’re the early settlers,” mentioned Tanika Burlie, a 29-year-old social employee, whose grandmother Mary Burlie got here to Edmonton within the Nineteen Sixties.

Edmonton AM7:40Edmonton’s African American Group

The Black Identities collection seems at outstanding Black communities in Edmonton, their presence within the metropolis and spotlight how they differ in tradition, faith and language. 7:40

She mentioned the neighborhood together with Shiloh Baptist Church — the oldest Black church in Alberta — is ensuring the youthful era in addition to the remainder of Edmonton know who they’re.

“Partly what we’re doing now in our neighborhood is definitely instructing folks concerning the African American settlers and about our tradition and our roots right here in Edmonton,” Burlie mentioned. 

Cariwest is a massively well-liked annual celebration in Edmonton. (Terry Reith/CBC)


There are greater than 13,000 Caribbeans in Edmonton, based on the 2016 census by Statistics Canada. Although the Jamaican neighborhood makes up a much bigger portion, greater than 6,000 folks, Trinidadians, at greater than 2,000, are additionally very lively within the metropolis. 

Damion Gallimore, a community analyst in Edmonton and who began a web page known as JamaicaYEG to advertise his neighborhood, mentioned Jamaican tradition when it comes to meals and music is powerful within the metropolis. 

“In Edmonton, right here you do have some established Jamaican meals eating places and grocery retailer the place you possibly can truly get produce straight out of Jamaica,” he mentioned.

Edmonton AM7:55Edmonton’s Caribbean neighborhood

For Black Historical past Month, we’re celebrating the varied voices inside Edmonton’s Black neighborhood. Kashmala Fida Mohatarem brings us a narrative from the Jamaican and Trinidadian point-of-view. 7:55

“We’re wealthy in music. We promote plenty of reggae music occasions, typically it is like a Bob Marley theme or typically it is stage exhibits that the occasion promoters deliver up entertainers from Jamaica, typically it is older sort and typically they’re present when it comes to mainstream.”

Every Caribbean Island is distinct, the place for instance Jamaica is ethnically majority Afro Jamaicans, Trinidad has Black, Indian and Chinese language ancestry. 

All of the communities come collectively to maintain their heritage alive at Cariwest pageant — a three-day pageant celebrating Caribbean tradition and heritage.

Samantha Alexander, advertising and marketing director for Cariwest, mentioned the carnival showcases Caribbean meals, music and costumes for Edmontonians but additionally to their very own youthful era. 

“Via our pageant we at all times have a part of historical past so simply explaining how carnival has come to be, the totally different components inside carnival, speaking about that on a yearly foundation,” Alexander mentioned. 

“I assume that is a giant mandate too, to teach the youthful era after which additionally others too.”

Funke Olokude is a neighborhood advocate and Nigerian-Canadian in Edmonton (Tope Akindele Images)


The Nigerian neighborhood, with greater than 3,000 members based on the 2016 census, is an extremely numerous neighborhood with members from a number of tribes talking tons of of languages.  

In Nigeria there are round 250 tribes and 500 languages spoken. Though the nation’s three primary languages are Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa, their official language is English as a consequence of British colonization. 

In Edmonton, the neighborhood speaks English, however Funke Olokude, a neighborhood advocate in Edmonton, needs Edmontonians would acknowledge their tribal languages as properly.

“Most individuals do not know that we have now such range inside us,” she mentioned. 

Edmonton AM8:18Edmonton’s Nigerian Group

Our Kashmala Fida Mohatarem shares the varied tradition and traditions of the Nigerian neighborhood, as a part of the ultimate instalment of her collection celebrating Black Identities in Edmonton. 8:18

The neighborhood has Muslims and Christians who have fun non secular holidays collectively. 

“When it was Eid, I used to be celebrating Eid. When it was Christmas, I used to be celebrating Christmas,” Olokude mentioned. 

“Though we’re divided on tribal and non secular traces, that communal really feel is powerful and it is one thing we’re additionally making an attempt to construct right here in Edmonton as properly.”

As a result of there are such a lot of tribes throughout the nation, they’ve all kinds of conventional clothes and meals as properly. 

Ibrahim Kassim, social director for the Nigerian Affiliation of Edmonton, mentioned their clothes consists of vivid colors — reds, blues, greens and yellows — and, for males, are a variation of lengthy robes or tunics together with the kaftan or the agbada. 

Historically Nigerian girls put on wrappers, that are available in numerous types of draped clothes. 

“With a lot affect from all over the world, plenty of conventional attires have been designed to look extra fashionable so you have got blouses, you have got skirts, there may be plenty of worldwide affect on the style sense of Nigerians proper now,” Kassim mentioned.

Nonetheless, one frequent factor of all formal put on is the headgear. The ladies put on headgears of appreciable dimension.

“They really have particular individuals who know tips on how to tie it and it is available in totally different designs relying on how flamboyant you need to look,” Kassim mentioned.  

“So in the event you discover in all three main ethnic teams there may be headgear for all our main attires for each males and the ladies.” 

For extra tales concerning the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success tales throughout the Black neighborhood — try Being Black in Canada, a CBC undertaking Black Canadians might be happy with. You can read more stories here.


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