Celebrating Black History Year-Round

Written by: Fahmi Turk, Chamber Young Professionals Committee + Relationship Manager at Libro Credit Union 

Black history in February is necessary. However, people should also act on their appreciation for Black communities in Canada throughout the year.

Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate Black Canadians, acknowledge historical wounds, and recognize that Black Canadians are an important part of our society. Beyond treating them as equals, Canadians can make the effort to support Black businesses, artists, and charities throughout the year — not just in February.

According to small business BC, Canadians should shop at small businesses to:

  • Support the character of the community.
  • Keep money in the community.
  • Encourage people to build a life in their community.
  • Help the environment.
  • Build the community and help it prosper.


We asked Fred & Ida Wells – retired Canadian entrepreneurs what black history month meant to you as business owners? The former Waterloo African bakery owners said: “Some of the socio-economic disadvantages we faced as entrepreneurs in America effected our operation and led us to relocate and immigrate our skills to Canada where we felt nothing short of equality and respect for our operation”. We felt partially marginalized in America because of our skin colour,  Ida said. Her family struggled with debt growing up which reflected negatively on her credit score and the opportunity to fund a successful operation diminished. “The inability to borrow and support our marketing strategy made it difficult to grow and prosper”. We moved to Waterloo in 1999 and ran Well’s Puffs bakery until 2009. We then decided to retire and focus on our family. Waterloo has been happily home for over 24 years.

In efforts to raise awareness, how can the community support African business owners in our community?

  1. Be intentional about shopping at black owned businesses: Using websites like Canada Black Owned Business & Black Entrepreneurs Directory – Afrobiz and Black Business Directory and Marketplace – Black Business Global (blackbizglobal.com) to guide your search can be a great start.
  2. Build relationships with Black-owned businesses: Small-business owners can be busy and have no time to promote themselves. One way to demonstrate support is to make in person visits, invite them to meet other business owners (through joining the Chambers of Commerce events), and offer mentorship within your scope of experience if a business is struggling to stay afloat.
  3. Invest in black-owned businesses: For many African owned businesses startup funding might be difficult to attain. Talk to your local Credit Union (Libro CU in KW region for instance) as their policies are more flexible and their money is invested and deposited locally.

The challenges that many black business-owners face and continue to endure can be overcome. The good news is that you can do a tremendous amount to become a positive force. A great place to start is to seek out one black-owned business you can get behind and give them some business. Then, spread the word.