On May 25, 1815, more than 300 Black Americans, formerly slaves, arrived in Saint John harbour, having fled bondage in the Chesapeake Bay region. These courageous and hardworking refugees founded the community of Willow Grove, just outside of Saint John, in 1817. Now, over 200 years later, Black Canadians continue to shape our province in many ways including through arts, sports, poetry, academia, technology and entrepreneurship. Our province would not be what it is today without the daily contribution and hard work of Black Canadians.
Our government has been hard at work to acknowledge the contributions of Black New Brunswickers, but also the challenges the Black community continues to face. That is why we commissioned a report to develop an understanding of the nature and impact of systemic racism in New Brunswick. The report, which was submitted to government in December, was developed through extensive consultations.
We are also working to update civics curricula to ensure that the histories and realities of Black Canadians reflect the most accurate and up-to-date information available. Staff at the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development continue to work with community groups across the province.
History was made last June, when August 1 was declared Emancipation Day in New Brunswick with the full support of the legislative assembly and provincial government.
We will continue to work with partners across the province to make improvements and support community healing and acknowledge the incredible contributions the Black community has made to the lives of New Brunswickers. That is why, throughout February and the rest of the year, I encourage everyone to honour the legacy of the Black community in New Brunswick and learn about the many ways their contributions have made this province a better place.