Miss Betty Riley:“Black Is” aired in the 1970s and was the first all-black television program to air in Canada. The program was created by Miss Betty Riley, one of the first black female producers at the time. Her program “Black Is” could be seen as a response to programming on black issues at the time. In a newspaper article dated 1973, Miss Betty Riley spoke about how most productions on the topic were written by white people: “If they are going to deal with black issues, they should be controlled by black people.”
Fred Hodges:Fred Hodges began working as a freight worker for the Canadian Pacific Railway company in 1940. By 1947 he was the first black member of the Brotherhood of Railway, Airline, Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees. He would later take part in a number of organizations such as the New Brunswick Federation of Labor, New Brunswick Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the New Brunswick Industrial Relations Commission, and the Saint John and District Labor Council. Fred Hodges became the first black New Brunswicker to hold the position of City Councilor in Saint John in 1974.
Mary Matilda (Tilly) Winslow:Tilly Winslow of Woodstock NB, was a trailblazer, becoming the first black women to attend and graduate from the University of New Brunswick in 1905. Winslow received her BA with honors in Classics, and the Montgomery-Campbell Prize for excellence. She later taught in Halifax before moving to the United States to become Dean of the Normal Department at Central College in Alabama.
Hartley Theodore Gosline:On June 4, 1969, Hartley Gosline of Saint John NB, began his training at “Depot” division in Regina, Saskatchewan. Upon finishing his training, Gosline became the first black RCMP member. Constable Gosline was sent on various missions across the province before leaving the force in 1978 to begin his own private investigation company and becoming a fraud investigator for Human Resources Development Canada.
These are just a few of the many contributions by black New Brunswickers that are highlighted by the NB Black History Society that have shaped the province we have today. Many of those mentioned are not just New Brunswick “Firsts” but trailblazers on a national level.
For more information on contributions made by black New Brunswickers, check out the NBBHS’s website at: http://www.nbblackhistorysociety.org/