January 21st, 2023
“It is not your duty to be average. It is your duty to set a higher example for others to follow.”
– Lincoln Alexander
Since 2015, January 21 has been recognised across Canada as Lincoln Alexander Day. The Honourable Lincoln Alexander was a pioneer in the fight for racial equity in Canada. Alexander’s legacy is marked by many firsts as a Black person in Canada. Alexander was the first Black Member of Parliament in the House of Commons, the first Black Federal Minister, and the first Black Chair of the Worker’s Compensation Board of Ontario. These firsts are only a few of the accomplishments that have and will continue to inspire generations of African, Caribbean and Black-identifying people across Canada.
About Lincoln Alexander
Throughout his life and career, Lincoln Alexander spoke out boldly against racism and inequity, often risking career and professional advancement in the process. As a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, he served as a wireless operator in World War II. While stationed in Vancouver, he was refused service at a bar because of his race. He reported the incident to his superior officer, who refused to take action. Alexander subsequently quit the Air Force, leaving with an honourable discharge. This is only one moment of exemplary advocacy in the life of this great Canadian.
- In 2006, he was named the “Greatest Hamiltonian of All Time”.
- He was an advocate for education and has four public schools named in his honour.
- Toronto Metropolitan University renamed its law school the Lincoln Alexander School of Law to honour his legacy in the fight for racial equality.
- The Law Society of Ontario established the Lincoln Alexander Award in 2002 and it is awarded annually in recognition of an Ontario lawyer or paralegal who has demonstrated long-standing interest and commitment to the public and to the pursuit of community service on behalf of residents of Ontario.
To learn more about the legacy of Lincoln Alexander, we invite you to watch this documentary: Lincoln M. Alexander: The Time Has Come to Celebrate (2002).