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New film ‘a love letter’ to historic heart of Vancouver’s Black community

Click to play video: 'This is BC: Vancouver filmmaker celebrates Black history'
This is BC: Vancouver filmmaker celebrates Black history
A local filmmaker is featuring Hogan's Alley and Black Strathcona. The film is called “Union Street" and looks at the lifestyle of the community and the struggles it has faced. Jay Durant has the details on This Is BC – Feb 15, 2024

A Vancouver filmmaker is featuring Hogan’s Alley and the city’s historic Black Strathcona neighbourhood.

Her film is called Union Street, and looks at the lifestyle of the community and the struggles it has faced.

The film might have just been released, but it’s been years in the making, filmmaker Jamila Pomeroy told Global’s This is BC.

Click to play video: 'New Documentary ‘Union Street’ explores Vancouver’s Black Community'
New Documentary ‘Union Street’ explores Vancouver’s Black Community

“I really grew up searching for a sense of belonging,” Pomeroy said.

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“I just really questioned where the Black community was when we have big cities like Toronto that have big vibrant Black communities,” she added.

“I wanted to commemorate the original Hogan’s Alley neighbourhood, but also have it be a familiar name.”

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Her film celebrates the spirit and energy once so prominent in the area.

“Incredible musicians were coming up from the ‘States,” Pomeroy said.

“Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong — all these people (were) coming through the doors of Vie’s Chicken and Steak,” historian Joshua T. Robertson explained.

The film also chronicles the challenges the community faced when the area was razed for new development and the construction of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts.

Click to play video: 'Properly planning Black History Month events'
Properly planning Black History Month events

“A mass exodus out of Hogan’s Alley and Black Strathcona,” Pomeroy said. “We saw people disperse amongst the (Greater Vancouver Regional District).”

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“That displacement left a void in Vancouver,” added Robertson.

Pomeroy’s documentary also showcases the hard work community members are doing today.

“It’s so beautiful to be here and see businesses like Rise Up come back to the neighbourhood,” Pomeroy said.

Click to play video: 'Black History Month business challenge'
Black History Month business challenge

It’s also highlighting efforts to preserve and build on that rich history.

“There’s a lot of really great people within the Black community and it’s really our job to help foster those community members and build a better future,” Pomeroy said.

“It shows young people this incredible history in a way that elevates us,” Robertson added.

“It shows a diversity of experiences and I think it’s an incredible moment in time and a love letter to Vancouver.”

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To contact Jay Durant with a story idea for This is BC, email him details and contact information at thisisbc@globalnews.ca

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