Nanaimo African Heritage Society is gearing up for its 19th annual Black History Month gala dinner and dance on Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Coast Bastion Hotel. Pictured here, Michelle Francis and Shalema Gantt, organizers. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

VIDEO: Settlers will be celebrated at Nanaimo Black History Month event

Nanaimo African Heritage Society event takes place Feb. 24 at Coast Bastion Hotel

Settlers of African-American descent will be commemorated as Nanaimo African Heritage Society holds its 19th annual Black History Month gala dinner and dance on Saturday, Feb. 24.

The event at the Coast Bastion Hotel gives a nod to the first black settlers who came to Vancouver Island 160 years ago. Karen Hoshal, a direct descendent of a group of those pioneers, the Alexander family, said they arrived in Victoria in 1858 at the urging of Sir James Douglas, B.C. governor, who had sent word to San Francisco seeking settlers to come up to live. Douglas wanted more settlers on the Island’s south end so it wouldn’t be annexed to the U.S., said Hoshal.

Shalema Gantt, society president and event organizer, said some even set roots in Nanaimo, including the Stark family. Father Louis owned property at Chase River and daughter Emily was one of the area’s teachers.

“There‘s lots of history that people don’t realize,” said Gantt. “There were 100 riflemen that were basically controlling and protecting [people] because it was something that the navy didn’t take on, so locally we had rifleman … The Stark family came here, farmed land, helped to build on Salt Spring Island, helped to build some of Nanaimo and they’ve left a legacy of farms and trees and things that they’ve planted.”

African storyteller and drummer Jean-Pierre Makosso, DJ Redline and youth dance groups will be among entertainers and the menu will be Afro-Caribbean-inspired and will include rum barbecue Jerk chicken with pineapple and pulled pork and plantains.

The event begins at 6 p.m. Tickets are $55 for adults, $15 for children and free for kids under eight years old. Gantt said there are about $500 in door prizes.

For more information, go to

Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram

Just Posted

Habitat for Humanity development in Nanaimo moving to open house stage

Development planned for Albert and Pine streets

Park bylaw for former water district land fails

Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay’s opposing vote delays dedication of parkland

Dover Bay ranks highest in Nanaimo school district in Fraser Institute report

The Fraser Institute releases annual report card on secondary schools

More than 150 tremors hit Vancouver Island in last 24 hours

Seismologists monitor to see if pressure will be added to major fault

UPDATE: Oceanside RCMP say teen has been located

Police asked for public assistance last week while looking for Isaiah Taylor

Homeless people living on ‘Surrey Strip’ move into modular housing

BC Housing says 160 homeless people are being moved into temporary Whalley suites from June 19 to 21

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Grad will embrace, at a run, what’s next

Barsby’s Hope Stewart has learned lessons on the track that will keep serving her well

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Student helps to tell his grad class’ stories

Jay Panchal of Dover Bay Secondary School comfortable with all different platforms

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Rounds of applause await as grad goes to next level

Island ConnectEd graduate Ella Olesen compelled to seek spotlight and results

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Well-organized grad sets example for fellow students

Nanaimo Christian School graduate Maria Clemotte lends expertise

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Student finds balance between local and global thinking

Colton Van Der Minne of NDSS already learning at next level

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Grad year has ended up being an ultimate adventure

Aspengrove School’s Lesley Hill has been a representative for her school internationally

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Student is definitely graduating in style

Wellington Secondary grad Hailey Urbanoski happy to help others with her design sense

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Graduate guiding others, too, as she finds her own path

Cedar Secondary grad student Jenna McColman already a mentor

Most Read