Ahead of the 30th anniversary of Canada's Black History Month, an anti-racism society in the province celebrated the second annual Black Excellence Day on Friday.
Created by the B.C.-based Ninandotoo Society, which works to honour the experiences of Black and racialized Canadians, Black Excellence Day is celebrated on Jan. 15. If that falls on a weekend, it is celebrated the preceding Friday instead, so classrooms can mark the occasion.
Kamika Williams, president of Ninandotoo Society, started the initiative after seeing a lack of representation of Black Canadians in the school curriculum.
She says the goal of this year's celebration is to continue to spark important conversations about anti-racism while highlighting the contributions of Black Canadians in B.C.
The society partnered with the Burnaby School District once again, and hosted their first in-person event at Byrne Creek Community School.
"It's important to acknowledge the resiliency that the Black community has when faced with injustice," said16-year-old Lulyana Tsehaye, a student at Byrne Creek.
Tsehaye says as a Black Canadian, it's empowering to see an initiative that seeks for more representation of her community and culture.
"Black people have contributed so much more to the world than people are often told. We're not a race of people that are traumatized. We are a race of people who have ideas and passions," she said.
Beth Applewhite, district principal of equity, diversity and inclusion, says Black Excellence Day gives students a platform to find their voice.
"Anyone who has felt the pain of discrimination, anyone who has ever felt marginalized or othered. This is a day about resilience and empowerment and celebrating that strength," she said.
The society says more than 32,000 students and educators across the province also celebrated, including schools and districts in Ontario and Nova Scotia holding their own Black Excellence Day events.
"We are currently working with politicians and organizations across Canada to get this day recognized on a national level," the society said in a written statement.