The History Channel series will explore Canada’s Black history, including Jamaican Maroons deported to Nova Scotia

HISTORY® and Hungry Eyes Media Group announce groundbreaking four-part docuseries, BLK: An Origin Story, premiering Saturday, February 26 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The limited series, consisting of four 60-minute episodes, reveals the profound historical impact of the black presence in Canada. Executive produced by Jen Holness and Sudz Sutherland, BLK: An Origin Story is led by hungry eyesaward-winning production team, which takes viewers on a national journey through time to uncover the untold history of Black people in Canada and their heritage, which dates back to 1608.

BLK: An Origin Story is steeped in gripping, enduring and multi-faceted historical narratives of Black Canadians. Each episode transports viewers to a different Canadian location and provides chronologically significant information about the consequences of black presence in the regions. Featured outposts include Nova Scotia, Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec. The series also highlights the legacy of Black contributions to the larger history of Canada itself, dating back to when explorer Mathieu de Costa first set foot on land, more than 400 years old. BLK: An Origin Story acts as an immersive and informative chapter in Black Canadian history, elevating remarkable Black Canadians previously unrecognized in mainstream social, academic and cultural circles, normalizing their unique histories as a mainstream record.

“As Canadian creators, BLK: An Origin Story embodies our professional mission to champion new and authentic perspectives on storytelling. We crossed the country and talked, listened and learned. The result is four hours of programming that resets understanding of Black history in Canada. It was important to us to present the series as a comprehensive, multi-layered, multi-disciplinary and essential Canadian journey. We are grateful to the devotees, knowledge keepers and storytellers of Canadian black communities and places from Vancouver to Halifax, with Owen Sound, Amherstburg, Windsor and Montreal as intermediate points. They shared the immense generational experiences and events documented in each episode. We view Black history and the contribution of Black people to Canadian history as a defining element of Canada’s overall identity, from an inside and out look,” said Jennifer Holness, Executive Producer, Hungry Eyes Media Group.

“This is a pivotal time in our country’s history to reflect on and share the important black stories that have influenced our nation,” said Lisa Godfrey, senior vice president of original content and Corus Studios. “We are proud to partner with the talented storytellers at Hungry Eyes Media who have developed this must-have and influential documentary series.”

“Black people have a right to know how they took space in Canada, going back to the beginning of how the country’s identity was shaped. The historical learnings we share in this documentary series are of vital importance to our communities as we cannot move forward without acknowledging our tremendous contributions to Canada’s past,” said Sudz Sutherland. “By shedding these lights, the series contributes to the larger societal conversation towards dismantling systemic racism.”

BLK: An Origin Story elevates unsung heroes who have made significant contributions to Canadian nation-building and Black Canadian history. The series sheds light on the origins of diverse and deep-rooted experiences among Black Canadians, ranging from transportation, escapism, or free travel in Canada. Part history book, part geography lesson, each of the four episodes draws on compelling images, artwork, locations, archival documents and interviews with some of the world’s best-known experts and the lesser known in the country on the traditions, facts and pedagogy of black Canadians. The list of authors, scholars, musicians, historians, community leaders, activists and alumni includes George Elliot Clarke, Lawrence Hill, Charmaine Nelson, El Jones, May Q Wong and Stephanie Allen, among others.

Synopsis of the episode:

Episode 1: Three Epic Migrations, One People (NS)
The descendants of Black Loyalists, Jamaican Maroons and Black Refugees now represent the largest black population in Canada. Their incredible story begins in Nova Scotia in the 1700s and challenges our understanding of what should be considered a distinct society.

Episode 2: John “Daddy” Hall (Owen Sound, ON)
Born free to an Ojibwe father and runaway slave mother in Upper Canada, John “Daddy” Hall fought in the War of 1812, was captured and sold into slavery. Thirteen years later, he makes a daring escape and finds his way back to Canada.

Episode 3: Hogan’s Alley (Vancouver, BC)
Before urban renewal, before displacement and before dispersion, there was life. For many years, Hogan’s Alley was the heart of Vancouver’s black community. But this community began in the 1850s, when James Douglas (the father of British Columbia) invited black people to settle on Vancouver Island in an effort to avoid American annexation.

Episode 4: Little Burgundy (Montreal, QC)
Nestled between Griffintown and Saint-Henri in southwest Montreal, Little Burgundy is home to a black population led by black men who worked in the Canadian railroad industry as sleeping car porters. They were the first black labor union to organize in North America and were among the leaders in the struggle for civil rights.

BLK: An Origin Story is produced by Hungry Eyes Media in association with Corus Studios for HISTORY. Executive producers are Jen Holness and Sudz Sutherland. For Corus Studios and HISTORY, Kathleen Meek is head of production, Rachel Nelson is vice president of original scripted, factual and children’s content, and Lisa Godfrey is senior vice president of original content and Corus Studios.