On Tuesday February 25, at the Ottawa Public Library main branch on Metcalfe Street, the Workers’ History Museum hosted a Black History Month celebration of the legacy of trade union activist and pioneer Cal Best. As a boy, Calbert Best and his mother were expelled from their theatre’s Whites-Only section. Cal devoted the rest of his life to dismantling segregation. Through panel discussions, interviews, archival footage and contemporary news accounts, the Cal Best Project analyzed the impact and celebrated the legacy of this extraordinary activist whose career culminated in his appointment as Canada’s first black High Commissioner (ambassador). His career spans a period of almost no Black public employees, through having junior and insecure positions, to a more inclusive and representative situation today.
Photos by Sarah Onyango