Canada Post has issued two new stamps featuring two African-Canadian communities – and the people who called them home – to celebrate Black History Month in Canada on 30th January 2014. While at opposite ends of the country, the communities shared similarities beyond their composition. Both date back to the 18th and 19th centuries and both were dismantled in the name of urban renewal.
Africville, one of Nova Scotia\’s oldest black communities, has become an important symbol of the struggle against racism. The town never received proper roads, health services, water, street lamps or electricity. After neglecting the community for years, the City of Halifax razed Africville in the 1960s. It evicted residents and ordered its dwellings destroyed. Africville remains an enduring symbol of the need for vigilance in defence of African-Canadian communities and institutions.
Hogan\’s Alley was the unofficial local name for a four-block dirt lane in Vancouver, located close to the city\’s modern-day Chinatown. It was the first concentrated community of people of African descent in Vancouver and, while geographically small, it was culturally significant. It was a vibrant destination for food and nightlife and a hotbed of jazz and blues.
Both stamps pair real photographs with photo-inspired watercolour illustrations by artist Janice Kun.
The Africville stamp features photographs of seven girls, all members of the community, set against an illustrated background of the neighbourhood. The Hogan\’s Alley stamp depicts Nora Hendrix, grandmother of rock legend Jimi Hendrix, and Fielding William Spotts Jr. Both were neighbourhood residents.
\”These communities are symbols of how far we\’ve come in Canada and the stamps illustrate the children and families who were the heart of these neighborhoods,\” says the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport.
\”Our stamps feature people who lived there and continue to share memories from that period,\” says Deepak Chopra, Canada Post President and CEO. \”We hope to help tell those stories through our stamps.\”The 2014 Black History Month issue is the sixth installment in the series, which began in 2009. Until this year, it has focused on people. Nine Canadians have been commemorated, including Montreal-born jazz legend Oliver Jones (2013); National Baseball Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins (2011); and Rosemary Brown, the first black woman elected to a provincial legislature (2009).
About the stamps
The stamps measure 32 mm X 32 mm with simulated perforations. They are printed by Lowe-Martin on Tullis Russell paper using lithography in five colours. The official first day cover will be cancelled in Halifax, N.S. and Vancouver, B.C. in honour of Africville and Hogan\’s Alley respectively. Each stamp is available in a booklet of 10 stamps. To purchase philatelic products, please visit canadapost.ca/shop.