Founder of African Descent Society of BC to speak at information session

Surrey Archives will host Yasin Kiraga Misago’s discussion on the history of Black Canadians on Feb. 9

Founder of the African Descent Society of BC will give a presentation on Feb. 9 about Henry Houston Scott. (Claudia Culley)

Founder of the African Descent Society of BC will give a presentation on Feb. 9 about Henry Houston Scott. (Claudia Culley)

The Surrey Archives is hosting a free online event on Feb. 9 in honour of Black History Month through Microsoft Teams. 

Yasin Kiraga Misago, executive director and founder of the African Descent Society of BC (ADSBC), will speak at the event and discuss Black Canadian history in British Columbia,  dating back to 1858 and the African descent history in Surrey. 

“I will be giving a talk on the history of Surrey’s Black pioneer, Henry Houston Scott, who was the first Black pioneer to arrive in Surrey and established the first Black community,” Misago says. 

Scott lived in Cloverdale with his wife, Amy, and their three children and helped establish the Black community culture in Surrey. They were one of the first Black families to immigrate to Cloverdale from the United States in 1912. 

“We will be looking at that family and generating the role that was played by these African descent pioneers,” he says. 

Misago says the goal is to promote Black Canadian heritage by having people learn about its history in Surrey. 

“What people should take away from the event is that the Black community has been existing like any other community here in B.C. We want community members to come together as a single voice, so we can create a new vibrant Black community by raising awareness around gentrification and displacement,” Misago says. 

“It is important to have the African Descent Society right now, because we need a strong organization to build the Black community.”  

The non-profit organization was founded in 2014 and ADSBC’s goals are to protect the history and culture of the Black community in B.C. The society was also behind the re-opening of Vancouver’s Fountain Chapel and created a Youth Engagement Program to encourage youth involvement in the society. 

“We organize and offer our Youth Engagement program, bringing together youth immigrants and refugees, to engage in public and cultural social policies as well as poetry, storytelling and dance presentations,” reads a statement on their website. 

ADSBC also hosts walking tour events around Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood, which originally was the settlement for Black Canadians. The next walking tour is on Feb. 26. 

“The society has one of the largest historic databases, where you can learn about the curriculum of Black history and explore one of the biggest online historic exhibitions with over 200,000 people visiting our website,” Misago says. 

Misago is passionate about continuing to promote Black heritage in B.C. and the impact the community has had on Surrey and Vancouver. 

“It is very important to have this organization because it works to rejuvenate the community by bringing people together,” he says. 

The event will be from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Those interested can register on the City of Surrey website to get the link to attend.