A look at Black History Month
How have Kitchener-Waterloo citizens honoured black Canadians over the month of February?
Throughout this past month, Canada, along with the United States and United Kingdom, has celebrated Black History Month. Black History Month has been officially recognized in Canada since 1995, when the House of Commons declared February as a month to honour the successes and achievements of black Canadians.
Kitchener-Waterloo has joined in celebrating Black History Month this year through presenting a number of citizen and city-organized events focused on celebrating black culture and history.
The City of Waterloo does not directly create its own events for Black History Month, but rather works with groups and organizations to help promote and host events using city facilities.
One such event that took place in Waterloo was the Beating The Odds conference, hosted by Wilfrid Laurier University’s Association of Black Students.
The conference served to help empower and motivate students of African descent in Waterloo region to stay in school and achieve higher education. Waterloo mayor Dave Jaworsky gave the opening speech for the conference.
“I was happy to be an opening speaker for the conference to help encourage and inspire high school youth to maximize their potential through higher education,” he said.
“I think that this is a great outreach program by the students of WLU and I commend them for their effort.”
Kitchener has also hosted several events celebrating Black History Month, including an event this past Sunday at Maranatha Lutheran Church that featured author Rosemary Sadlier, president of the Ontario Black History Society.
Other events have included a Caribbean day at the Kitchener Market and a speaker’s event hosted by Karl Subban, the father of NHL hockey player, P.K. Subban.
However, even with the many events going on in K-W, there is still some concern as to whether Black History Month is visible to students, or if students are aware of the month.
“Me, personally, I haven’t seen many events. I can’t really say I’ve seen much,” said Adam Gilbert, a second-year student at Laurier.
There is also a concern that even if students are aware February is Black History Month, they either do not agree with the principle behind the idea in general or simply do not engage in events.
“I think most students are aware it’s Black History Month,” said Gilbert. “But I don’t know if they go out of their way to make themselves aware or go to events.”
Despite some students and K-W community members being unaware of them, events around the region will continue to honour the achievements of black Canadians until the end of the month.
“Our strength as a city comes from the diversity of our people and the work of the generations that have come before us,” said Waterloo city councillor, Jeff Henry.
“Shining a light on that past helps us understand more of our shared story, celebrating how far we have come and recognizing the work we still have to do.”