Communities celebrate Black History Month virtually

·3 min read

Black History Month is being celebrated across the country with the theme “The Future is Now.”

“February is Black History Month,” said Mayor Allan Thompson. “It is an opportunity for all Canadians to learn about the many contributions that Black Canadians and their communities have made to this country.”

The month is to celebrate the achievements, contributions and the communities of Black Canadians, in both the past and the present. Black History Month was first recognized in Canada in 1979 after the Ontario Black History Society petitioned Toronto to designate February as such.

Black History Month was officially recognized in all of Canada in 1995 by the House of Commons.

Annual events are held across the country, but due to the pandemic have had to turn virtual with this year’s theme, ‘The Future is Now’. Fortunately, online resources allow the opportunity for residents everywhere to join in.

The Caledon Public Library has organized a virtual event on February 17 where residents can join president of the Ontario Black History Society Natasha Henry in “Black History in Canada: A Look Back at 400 Years of Black Presence”

Henry will host the presentation, telling stories and going into the depth of the history of Black people in Canada. Registration can be done at Caledon.library.on.ca.

The Peel Art Gallery is inviting Peel residents to take a virtual tour of Our Voices, Our Journeys: Black Communities in Peel exhibition. The tour shines a light on the stories and journeys of leaders and mentors from the North Peel Community Church congregation, included with photos, objects that share their stories. The tour and additional events can be found at pama.peelregion.ca.

A new community website was created last year, the Dufferin County Canadian Black Association to provide a platform with education, programs, a variety of services for continued development and discussions of the Black community.

The Association brings a safe space, and advocacy along with outreach opportunities for individuals, families and business in the area.

The Association has joined together with the Museum of Dufferin for an online discussion panel event on February 20 for members of the community to come together and discuss future opportunities. The live stream is on the Museum of Dufferin website, at dufferinmuseum.com.

The City of Brampton is holding a series of events including empowerment conferences, performances, food tours of Black-owned restaurants, and panels.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board (DPCSB) is holding a Black Future Speakers Series in the theme of Nurturing Hope. According to the School Board, the series “seeks to nurture an understanding of hope, to value and affirm the lived experiences of Black Canadians and to reject the sin of racism.”

Additionally, Grade 7 and 8 classes will receive special seminars continuing through February 11 and 23 called “When the Saints Go Marching in! Celebrating the History of Africans in the Americas” Webinars.

The Peel District School Board (PDSB) is also holding a virtual learning series called “Looking Back to Move Forward.” The online events began on February 2, which, in previous years, was hosted in-person at the HJA Education Centre.

The virtual series includes guest speakers, including host of Canada Tonight Ginella Massa, Platinum-selling singer, songwriter and performer Jully Black, Brandon “Bizzy” Owusu, choreographer and YouTube channel host and Brandon Gonez, broadcaster and YouTuber.

“As we take this month to reflect, these 2021 Peel Board Black History Month events are about more than learning about the history of the African diaspora in Canada,” said Colleen Russell-Rawlins, Interim Director of Education in a recent statement. “I invite all students to participate in these virtual learning spaces and join the online conversation using the hashtag #BlackFuturesInPeel as we take this moment to think critically about and confront the current realities of anti-Black racism faced by Black Canadians while collectively shaping a brighter path forward.”

These virtual events can be found at peelregion.ca.

Alyssa Parkhill, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Caledon Citizen