Mathieu Da Costa (1589-1619)

Historians believe the first Black person to come to Canada was Mathieu Da Costa. European colonizers hired him, as a free man, to work as an interpreter. There is not much verifiable information about Da Costa’s life, but it seems he was in Canada in the early 1600s, and may have been involved in expeditions along Canada’s Atlantic coast in 1617. In 2009, a bill was tabled in Parliament to designate the first Monday in February as Mathieu Da Costa Day in Canada. Unfortunately, the bill died on the Order Paper. But if it had succeeded, in 2023, Da Costa’s commemorative date would have been on February 6, in Canada’s Black History Month.

(Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia)