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

Just Posted

Escaped python found in Saanich building reunited with its owner

The little snake is at ‘home, safe and sound,’ CRD chief bylaw officer says

UVic closes Finnerty Gardens and popular dog park Cedar Corner

Regular dog walkers to Cedar Corner sent elsewhere during pandemic

Highway 1 tree removal impacts traffic Tuesday evening

Work starts April 7 at 6 p.m. between Finlayson Arm Road and Westshore Parkway

No one injured in Saanich townhouse fire

Blaze may have been connected to fireplace use

Victoria police seek public’s help finding man missing more than a week

Joel Diment 26 and has short brown hair and hazel eyes

Mental Health: Planning for a crisis

Crisis planning lays out a blueprint in case hard times hit

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

Comox spring training cancelled for Snowbirds next month

The team announced that due to ongoing travel restrictions they will not be training in the Valley

Some Cowichan schools to reopen for children of essential-services workers

Cowichan Valley will open 8 elementary schools this week

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

Physiotherapists turn to technology to reach patients during COVID-19

Just because services, jobs, and socializing have been put on hold, it… Continue reading

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

Most Read