February marks Black History Month, and The Chamber strongly encourages everyone to learn more about the stories, struggles and accomplishments of Black Canadians.
Since the first Black pioneers arrived, Greater Victoria has benefited from countless Black entrepreneurs who've immigrated to Vancouver Island from the Canadian mainland, Africa, the Caribbean, and the rest of the world.
Through their perseverance, creativity, and ambition, the Black community continues to play an important role in the business community of Greater Victoria. Individuals, such as Emma Stark, have achieved great things in their time.
Emma Stark and her family arrived in Greater Victoria from the United States during the Cariboo Gold Rush. The family lived on Salt Spring Island before moving to Nanaimo. Emma would briefly return to Salt Spring Island before settling in Nanaimo to live with her father and receive an education.
Eventually, Emma would pass on her knowledge and experiences to future generations. She became a school teacher and was hired in 1874 to teach at Cranberry-Cedar school.
As the first Black teacher on Vancouver Island, Emma Stark led the way for future trades and business people. She was a trailblazer and an inspiration for Black women looking to enter the teaching profession.