Black Canadians: History, Presence, and Anti-Racist Futures

Learn about some of the major histories, migrations, artists and activists that have contributed to the presence and survival of Black people in Canada.

Take online for free

Sign up for free on Coursera today or upgrade to get a certificate.

Learn more and register

Get A Certificate

Pay a modest fee to receive a certificate of completion that you can share online.

Learn more and register

About the Course

Black Canadians: History, Presence, and Anti-Racist Futures is a four-module, on-demand micro-course tackling Anti-Black racism in Canada.

This micro-course explores some of the major histories, migrations, artists and activists that have contributed to the presence and survival of Black people in Canada. The course tracks Canada’s evolving relationship to Blackness and Black people while inviting learners to reflect upon the ways Canadian views of race and multiculturalism have influenced Black communities throughout the country. We invite you to reflect, dream and think alongside some of today’s most prominent Black intellectuals as we examine the history of Black presence in Canada, and imagine vibrant Black Canadian futures.

The micro-course is open to all learners and intends to facilitate learning, reflection and actions of solidarity across a wide spectrum of racial, ethnic and educational differences.

The primary objective of this course is to bring into focus the histories, realities and freedom dreams that have shaped Black presence in Canada for over four hundred years.

It aims to:

  • Celebrate the cultural, intellectual, artistic and communal contributions of Black Canadians;
  • Recognize instances of anti-Black violence and erasure in Canada’s past and present and describe the ways anti-Black racism specifically, and racism more broadly, has been sustained within the Canadian context;
  • Clarify the liberation struggles undertaken by Black Canadians and their contributions to human rights and anti-racist frameworks and practices;
  • Heed Black-led calls to action to provide meaningful support to counter racism broadly, and anti-Black racism specifically.

Register Now

Course Format

Delivery: Online

Level: Beginner

Commitment: 3 weeks at 2 hours a week (approximately 6-8 hours in total to complete)

This course consists of four modules, each comprising:

  • video lectures,
  • custom readings and multi-modal interactives,
  • audio interviews,
  • a downloadable reflection journal,
  • and recommended further reading lists.

What you'll learn

  • To recognize the scope of anti-Black violence and erasure in Canada's past and present.
  • To clarify the struggles for liberation undertaken by Black Canadians and celebrate their contributions to human rights and anti-racist practices.
  • To meaningfully heed Black-led calls in imagining anti-racist futures.


Andy Knight

Dr. W. Andy Knight

Dr. W. Andy Knight is a distinguished academic, currently serving as Professor of Political Science and Provost Fellow of Black Excellence and Leadership at the University of Alberta. He is a former Director of the Institute of International Relations at The University of the West Indies, and a co-founder of the Diplomatic Academy of the Caribbean. Dr. Knight has an extensive publication record, including the award-winning book Female Suicide Bombings: A Critical Gendered Approach. He has held editorial roles in prestigious journals and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada since 2011. Recognized for his influence, he was named among Alberta’s top 50 most influential people and received the Harry Jerome Trailblazer Award. Additionally, he served on the Board of Governors of the International Development Research Centre from 2007 to 2011. In 2021, he was honored as a Distinguished Professor at the University of Alberta and held the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in International Area Studies at Yale University. In 2023, McMaster University awarded him an LLD honoris causa.

Brandon Wint

Brandon Wint

Brandon Wint is a disabled, Black Canadian poet, spoken word artist and multidisciplinary storyteller originally from Ontario. The son of a Jamaican father and a Barbadian mother, Brandon has used poetry as a mode for exploring love, prayer, familial history and imaginings of radically loving futures for Black folks. As a poet and educator, Brandon has toured Canada several times and has shared worked internationally in the United States, Jamaica, Latvia, Lithuania and Australia. More recently, his poetry has intersected with cinema, as his debut film My Body Is A Poem/The World Makes With Me has screened at Reelworld Film Festival, Doxa Documentary Film Festival and Festival of Recorded Movement, among others.

Course Modules

Module 1: Before the Underground Railway: the Roots of Anti-Blackness in Canada

In this module, we will explore the relationship between race, colonialism and the institution of slavery, as practiced in France, Britain and their colonies, including Canada, during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Module 2: Migrations, Promises and Multiculturalism

In this module, we will examine nearly 200 years of Black migration into Canada. By detailing the successes, struggles and motivations of The Black Loyalists, the Maroons and some of the earliest Black settlements in Canada, we learn how racism and government policy were combined to limit the growth of Black communities.

Module 3: Black Canadian Civil Rights

In this module we will remember, celebrate and learn from important moments of civil resistance within Black Canadian history. We will explore a few of the strategies Black people in Canada have used to push back against mistreatment and how these actions have set precedents which have changed the shape of Canada, socially and legally.

Module 4: Freedom Dreaming: Beauty & Artistry in Black Canadian Life

In this module we look at some of the ways the creativity and artistry of Black Canadians has helped document Black Canadian life and clarify the paths toward liberation. Through a close and joyful look at jazz, hip-hop, folk and poetry, we will come to terms with some of the ways Black Canadians have learned to freedom-dream through artistry.