Celebrating Black History in Canada

February 27, 2018
2 minute read

Two inspirational Black Canadians honoured on new stamps

Canada Post marked 2018 Black History Month with new stamps honouring two remarkable Canadians: Lincoln M. Alexander and Kathleen (Kay) Livingstone.

Alexander and Livingstone were trailblazers who shattered barriers for Black Canadians and other visible minorities across Canada. They championed racial equality and advocated for social justice for all Canadians.

They left impressive legacies and have inspired generations of Canadians.

Lincoln M. Alexander (1922-2012)

Alexander was born in Toronto to West Indian immigrants. His father, from St. Vincent, was a railway porter and his mother, from Jamaica, was a maid.

He served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, at a time when Black Canadians often faced roadblocks to entering service. After the war, he earned a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School and later entered federal politics.

Alexander was the first Black Canadian to be elected to the House of Commons (1968) and appointed to the federal cabinet (1979). He was also the first Black Canadian to be named to a viceregal position in Canada, when he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Ontario in 1985.

‘Linc’ – as he was known to many – also served as the first chairman of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

Public service was a huge part of his life, as was education. He served as Chancellor of the University of Guelph for more than 15 years and conferred degrees on more than 20,000 graduates. He encouraged countless youth to pursue their dreams, often telling them: “I did it. You can. You will.”

In recognition of his extraordinary accomplishments, January 21 has been celebrated as Lincoln Alexander Day across Canada since 2015.

Kathleen (Kay) Livingstone (1918-75)

Raised in London, Ont., Livingstone was immersed in Black history from a young age. Her parents were leaders in the Black community and founded the newspaper The Dawn of Tomorrow, a publication dedicated to informing and connecting Black people.

Livingstone worked at the Dominion Bureau of Statistics in Ottawa during the Second World War. She got married in the nation’s capital and launched a career in radio with The Kathleen Livingstone Show. She later moved to Toronto, where she spent most of her adult life and became a popular radio host on various stations, including the CBC. She also emerged as one of Canada’s leading Black actresses for her work in amateur and professional productions.

Livingstone became one of Canada’s most prominent visionaries, activists and humanitarians. She devoted her life to empowering Black women – and her incredible contributions to society are still felt today.

In the 1950s, she founded the Canadian Negro Women’s Association. In 1973, she organized the first National Congress of Black Women, and in 1975 launched the Congress of Black Women of Canada, now a nationwide organization dedicated to the welfare of Black women and their families. Livingstone is also credited with coining the term “visible minority.”

She held important positions with the United Nations Association, the Legal Aid Society and Heritage Ontario, among others. In 2011, she was named a Person of National Historic Significance by the Government of Canada.

The stamps and all related products are available at retail outlets and online at canadapost.ca/shop