February is Black History Month in Canada, and we want to take this time to shine a light on the Black-owned businesses, Black artists, and Black history in our neighbourhood. 

Black Owned Businesses in the West End 

Across the country, Black entrepreneurs are making their presence felt. They’re driving innovations, delivering essential services in our communities, & much more. Show your support by shopping at local black-owned businesses in our communities.

Don’t know where to start? Black Business BC has launched their Black-owned business directory and marketplace: www.blackbizlocal.com. Supporting these businesses is something you can do all year long.

We are fortunate enough to have two amazing Black-owned businesses in the West End:

The Loft Lounge
184 Denman Street

The Loft Lounge on Denman Street is the West End’s tropical oasis. The menu is full of Caribbean-inspired dishes like jerk chicken sandwiches, curry lamb, and Jamaican patties.

Owner Richie Hussett missed his home cooking from the Caribbean – those wild & smooth hard to find flavors. So one day he decided to open a Caribbean restaurant and show everyone in Vancouver what they’ve been missing – his amazing heritage & powerful Caribbean taste. 

1074 Davie Street

Beetbox offers an ever-growing community of vegans, vegetarians and ‘flexitarians’ a homespun menu of plant-based comfort food perfect for dine-in, quick pick-up or delivery. Beetbox offers a mouthwatering menu of burgers, sandwiches and wraps as well as snacks, salads and sides and a bar that features local kombucha and craft beer.

Black Art in the West End 

Precious Fruit by Pearl Low
1138 Davie Street

Pearl Low (they/them) is an Academy Award-winning, Queer Afro-Asian artist based in Vancouver. Pearl works in comics and animation and won an Oscar in 2020 for their work on the short film Hair Love.

Black joy is so important to see because not only is it revolutionary, it is extraordinary, and beautiful. I wanted to paint a Black woman exuding joy, in all her glory, in front of a deconstructed sun, surrounded by oranges on branches. Oranges have many meanings, but the ones that resonate with me are Joy, Happiness and Prosperity. Through my lens, I hope to showcase a form of Black joy that is beautiful to me, and how even in a world that doesn’t support us, we still bloom and grow, like precious fruit.

 – Pearl Low 

View more of Pearl’s art by clicking here

Black History in the West End

Joe Fortes

In 1885, Joseph Seraphim (Joe) Fortes, landed upon Vancouver’s shores and settled into a cabin in English Bay. There, Joe quickly became one of Vancouver’s most popular citizens, serving Vancouverites in a variety of ways first as a shoe shine, then as a bartender and later as Vancouver’s first official lifeguard. In 1897 the city began to pay him as a lifeguard, and he saved numerous lives. Click here to learn more about Joe Fortes.

Photographer unknown, 1910. VPL 83598.

Rosemary Brown

Politician, feminist, writer, educator, lecturer and mother, Rosemary Brown has contributed much to B.C. and Canada including being the 1st black woman elected to a Canadian Provincial Legislature (B.C) and running for the leadership of the Federal NDP Party in 1975.

In 1956, Ms. Brown helped in the founding of the British Columbia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (BCAACP). The BCAACP worked to open up housing and employment to Black people in British Columbia, and for the introduction of human rights legislation in the provincial parliament.

You can read more about this iconic historical figure here.

The 2022 theme for Black History Month is: “February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day,” which focuses on recognising the daily contributions that Black Canadians make to Canada. No matter where you live, all Canadians are invited to learn more about these communities, and how they continue to help shape the story of Canada.