People lined up to have their pictures taken at the unveiling of the stamp bearing the image of Mathieu Da Costa, a relatively unknown but remarkable man who lived 400 years ago.
Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra was joined by Judy Foote, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and the minister responsible for Canada Post; and Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, to unveil the stamp. It was issued in celebration of Black History Month.
The Black History Month reception at the Canadian Museum of History on Feb. 6, hosted by Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, attracted more than 850 guests. That attendance made it the largest event at which Canada Post has unveiled a Black History Month stamp. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister Joly spoke.
Da Costa was a free man who worked as an interpreter for Europeans who were trading with Indigenous people in the New World in the early 17th century. Historians agree that he was the first person of African descent in Canada whose name has survived in the historical record.
However, historians do not know where he was born, where he went in New France or Acadia or what he looked like – and nobody thought to paint him in his lifetime.
Stamp designer Andrew Perro and illustrator Ron Dollenkamp, who attended the event, got a shout out from master of ceremonies Greg Fergus, the MP for Hull-Aylmer, and received an enthusiastic ovation. Perro and Dollenkamp had worked closely with historical advisor Francis Back of Montréal to ensure that every detail of Da Costa’s clothing, the sailing ship and the landscape was authentic.