Adapted for the small screen, The Book of Negroes' Canadian debut occurs one month ahead of the U.S.A. premiere, appositely scheduled for Black History Month. As with any historical film depicting the bowels of inhumanity towards people of colour, it is an uneasy subject matter for the mostly lily-white CBC personalities.
In the social context of Canada before the Quiet Revolution (1950s), before Viola Desmond's act of defiance (1946), before Rosa Parks triggered the United States' Civil Rights Movement (1955), Fred Christie stood up to institutional discrimination. A decade before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1947), Fred Christie exhibited unimaginable courage and perseverance in asserting his civil rights. Though the judicial process did not deliver the desired result, Fred Christie remains a key instigator in Canada's journey towards the establishment of universal rights.
Until we find concrete and genuine ways to take into account cultural differences and the institutional power relations that inform that reality in Canada, Black History Month, like multiculturalism, will continue to be sidelined and watered down to satisfy Canada's mythical narrative of togetherness, racial justice and equality.
As the fog around black Canadian history dissipates, a clearer picture emerges: there is no need to revert to African-American historical heroes because we have our own crusaders. Black Canadians pioneered B.C.'s very foundation, and they still contribute to the cultural fabric of the province to this day.