A new short documentary focuses on the impact of Black pioneer settlers in Victoria in the 1850s. (Screenshot/Youtube)

Black History Month: Documentary sheds light on black pioneers’ role in Victoria

Secret Victoria: Rush to Freedom looks at how a mass migration shaped the capital

A Victoria-based documentary explores the important role of black pioneers in B.C.’s history.

Secret Victoria: Rush to Freedom was created by Vancouver-based producer Anthony Brown and Telus Originals director Melinda Friedman.

It looks at how a rush of black immigrants in the 1850s helped shaped the Victoria we know today.

READ MORE: Black History Month – The Alexander family was among the first Black pioneers in B.C.

In 1850, then Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island, James Douglas – a man many people don’t realize was of mixed heritage himself – invited American black people from San Francisco to come settle in Victoria as free British citizens to combat the growing threat of American invasion. In California at the time, black people did not hold many rights, including proper citizenship. As a result, hundreds of black people took the chance of heading north.

The documentary picks the brains of local historians to understand the context of the migration, and the ripple effect it had on the capital’s history.

Brown has produced several documentaries, including a full-length documentary titled “Go Do Something Great” which explores black history in the province and is shown in local school systems. When Telus asked him to help with the Secret Victoria project he was delighted.

ALSO READ: Black History Month – ‘My family has been here since before Canada was a country’

“When I was growing up as a kid I wanted to learn something like that … as a person of colour I felt myself being left out,” Brown said. “We learned a lot about the British, a little bit about native history, but not a lot about black people.”

Brown had a lot of fun putting the documentary together, and said he’s glad to offer another opportunity for people to learn about Victoria’s real history.

ALSO READ: Royal Roads honours Black History Month by celebrating black excellence

Brown will soon retire from his job at Port Vancouver, allowing him to focus fully on his production company, Brownie Productions. His next documentary will look at a Vancouver neighbourhood once known as Hogan’s Alley, a predominantly black neighbourhood where Brown’s parents were married.

The documentary can be found at youtube.com.

Anyone with questions about the documentary is welcome to contact Brown at brownieproductions@shaw.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Garden-sharing map connects Victoria landowners and gardeners

U-Map created by Young Agrarians after COVID-19 created uptick in garden matching requests

Oak Bay Grade 8 students end time at Monterey with drive-through goodbye

School holds socially-distanced completion ceremony

Saanich wins award for climate plan cut from 2020 budget

‘It’s truly an exceptional plan,’ says councillor disappointed with lack of funding

CRD warns of toxic algae bloom at Thetis Lake Regional Park

Visitors advised to avoid swimming in lake, keep pets out of water

Saanich police, pound respond to possible cougar sighting

Cougar possibly seen in area of 4500-block of Chatterton Way

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read