Members of Calgary's Black and African communities gathered on Saturday at the Inglewood Community Association Hall to celebrate in anticipation of African Liberation Day on May 25.
Some dressed in traditional clothing as the group listened to speakers and artistic performances.
Meanwhile, children played games where they learned about African revolutionaries and the continent's rich resources.
The event was hosted by Black People United (BPU) Calgary, which was formed in August 2020 in response to the pandemic, according to Prudence Iticka, a member of the group.
"We thought, what can we do to look out for one another? That's how Black People United was essentially created," said Iticka.
African Liberation Day, also known to many as Africa Day, marks the anniversary of the signing of the Charter of the Organization of African Unity, which later became the African Union, by 32 African countries on May 25, 1963.
The charter called for greater unity between African countries, independence from colonialism and apartheid, and economic and political cooperation between signatories.
"Really what that day is, it's just a day for African people coming together from across the world, you know, to commit ourselves, to show our desire for unity and for self-determination," said Iticka.
"There's a lot going on today because it's a celebration, but it's also a day to learn, you know, to learn about ourselves, our history and our struggle."
Change still needed
Itica stressed that the event is not just for people from the African continent, but the entire African diaspora, including those who were born in Canada.
Tiffannie Bruney, who performed both a poem and a song at the event under her stage name TeaFannie, is of Caribbean descent.
"We're all connected," said Bruney.
"We're all from Africa. Being here is a nice [show of] solidarity for me because I haven't really seen the two communities come together like that."
Brunei said that while she thinks there's still a long way to go in the fight for equality, the journey starts with unity between members of the Black community.
"This [event] is happening because it's still needed, unfortunately…There's nothing that you can change about that. So you just need to keep one foot in front of the other and just change yourself and just hope that the effect goes with other people."