In 1858, 600 blacks moved from San Francisco north to the colonies that would eventually become British Columbia (B.C.), Canada. The move was in part initiated by an invitation penned by the governor of the British colonies, James Douglas, who is commonly believed to have had African ancestry, a rumor he neither confirmed nor denied. His appearance was such that he could "pass" for white. By 1871, after swelling to more than 1,000, the black population in B.C. had dwindled to fewer than 500. But in the late 19th-century, and on into the 20th, blacks continued to come to B.C. From the time of the first arrivals, the population and history of B.C.’s black community has been always in flux. If there is a unifying characteristic of black identity in B.C., it is surely the talent for reinvention and for pioneering new versions of traditional identities that such conditions demand.
Bluesprint is a groundbreaking, first-time collection of the creative output of B.C.’s black citizens, and includes an astonishing range of styles: journal entries, oral histories, letters, journalism, poems, stories, screenplays, and hip-hop lyrics.
The Pacific Northwest has never been thought of as a place with much of a black community, but Bluesprint is surprising and revealing proof of a vibrant community whose ethnicity is a source of strength and pride.
"Offers a treasure-trove of historical photos, lost writings, and rare transcribed recollections . . . it’s a valuable historical reference work that attempts to trace a cultural lineage for a population that has always been in flux."—Globe & Mail
Wayde Compton has an M.A. in English from Simon Fraser University. Fast becoming a respected cultural critic, he is working on a novel about telepathy and mixed-race. His most recent work is a "turntable" poem, performed in the DJ milieu.