Black History Month: looking back and moving forward

Photo Credit:  Glodi Miessi on Unsplash

Photo Credit: Glodi Miessi on Unsplash

Black History Month at Brock is organized through the Brock African Heritage Recognition Committee (BAHRC). A number of events have been taking place on and off-campus in celebration of Black history and will continue to occur until the end of the month.

The BAHRC works to develop events throughout the year, primarily in February. This is as a result of the events that took place in December of 1995 where the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament, the Honourable Jean Augustine put forward a motion that the House of Commons officially recognize February as Black History Month in Canada. In February 2008, Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black man appointed to the Senate, introduced the Motion to Recognize Contributions of Black Canadians and February as Black History Month.

Over the years the BAHRC has worked to organize talks, guest lectures, panel discussions, film screenings and more art exhibits for the Brock public and local Niagara Region community.

During Black History Month, Canadians celebrate the many achievements and contributions of black Canadians who, throughout history, have worked to make Canada the culturally diverse nation it is today.

All over campus and throughout Canada, people have been celebrating Black History Month in the past few weeks. On Feb. 22 in St. Catharines, there was the annual Black History Month Gala: ‘Then and Now’, which was an evening celebrating African and Caribbean culture. Entertainment included the African American Cultural Center’s Dance and Drum Performing Company from Buffalo, NY and DJ Ray. Part of the proceeds will be going to Gillian’s Place, a women’s shelter in St. Catharines.

In Hamilton, there was a screening of the highly acclaimed one-hour docudrama about Canada’s only all-Black military battalion that was formed during World War I. Above all, the film paid homage to the Black soldiers of the Number Two Construction Battalion who showed that the measure of a man is made through the courage in his heart and not by the colour of his skin. The program also included a talk by the director of the film, Anthony Sherwood.

According to the Government of Canada, only a few Canadians are aware of the fact that African people were once enslaved in Canada or of how abolitionists helped to lay the foundation of Canada’s diverse and inclusive society.

Black History Month is a time to learn more about these Canadian stories and the many other important contributions of Black Canadians to the settlement, growth and development of Canada, and about the diversity of Black communities in Canada and their importance to the history of this country.

In the last week of February, there are still many events that people can attend to celebrate Black History Month either at Brock, or in the greater Niagara region.

At Brock, the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) Group will be meeting on February 25, March 17 and April 7, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at WH 8G to discuss racism on campus and in everyday life. The hope is to provide a space for folks to safely share lived experiences, struggles, and triumphs. This discussion is closed to BIPOC students only.

In St. Catharines, the St. Catharines museum is giving free tours of their ‘Follow the North Star’ exhibit in celebration of Black History Month and it is a great way for people to learn more about the history of the Black community in St. Catharines.

Interested individuals are encouraged to visit ExperienceBU to find the upcoming Black History Month events to be held at Brock and visit www.niagarathisweek.com for events to be held in the Niagara region.

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