February is Black History month in Canada. The commemoration exists to remind us of the contributions of people of African and Caribbean descent. Recognition of the strengths and resilience of these historically marginalized communities. Reflection on racism and the impact that discrimination has had on these groups.

They have been long years of struggle by Afro-descendant communities. Since the 1950s, the Canadian Association of Black Women introduced the celebration of Black History Month in Toronto. In 1979, the Ontario government also adopted it. By 1996 the House of Commons enacted it and it came into force throughout the territory.

The United Nations (UN) declared the International Decade for People of African Descent from 2015 to 2024. It is recognized that people of African descent represent a group whose human rights must be promoted and protected.

In 2021, the celebration of Black History Month established by the Government of Canada is dedicated to recognizing the transformation that is taking place in Canadian communities. 

In 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, these struggles against racism were revived. We witnessed the protests of groups like “Black Live Matters” over the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota. Citizens of different countries, organizations, institutions, and thousands of people rejected police brutality.

When the whole world is stuck in the pandemic, political, economic, social, and even spiritual schemes are shaken, and we begin to see ourselves as human beings without discrimination. We must be supportive and seek equity and equality

We must commit ourselves and fight intensely against the different forms of racism that exist in our communities. In Canada, the words “diversity” and “inclusion” are present in almost all areas. Immigrants assimilate and adopt them in their daily lives.

In 1989, Peggy McIntosh, an American educator, wrote the article “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” She described white privilege as the invisible bundle of unearned goods that they can collect every day. The invisible weightless backpack of special supplies, maps, passports, codes, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks. McIntosh confirmed that privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others. It is an asset that makes whatever talents, abilities, and aspirations a person has more likely to result in something positive. Peggy McIntosh (1)

It is our turn to reflect, how can we face this situation? How to dismantle the privilege system that hurts others?

The answers lie within the educational system. We must provide high-quality education for all as a means of fostering social cohesion, an inclusive society. Education is affirmed in a framework of common values that promote the well-being of all citizens (2).

Educators and parents alike have a notable role in reducing inequality. Educators must provide opportunities for students to critique the cultural norms, values, and institutions that produce social inequalities. Parents should reinforce ideas of equality through example. As Nelson Mandela points out: No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin, their origin, or their religion. People must learn to hate, and they can be taught to love.

This year, Black History Month will cover a wide variety of topics, from history and health to politics and personal stories. Everyone is invited to participate in the virtual panels, discussions, and presentations for free, and very easy to share the link with anyone – friends, colleagues, families from all over the world. Organizations and individuals from all over Canada organize and participate in the Black History Month events that honor the legacy of Black Canadians and their communities.

Links to some of the activities planned virtually:

University of Toronto Black History Symposium 2021 – Honoring the Diversity of Black Leaders – The University of Toronto explores activism against black racism in diverse spaces. On February 8 from 10 am to 12 pm.

Toronto Black Film Festival: Online with more than 150 titles from 25 countries, plus panel discussions and children’s programming. From February 10 to 21. Prices vary, an all-access pass can be purchased for $ 69.

The Museum of Manitoba, in collaboration with Black History Manitoba, offers free virtual tours on the history of black communities in Canada. The program will take place on February 10, 17 and 24 and March 3.

They can also participate in conversations about the topic at:

The Black Experience in Business and Technology by Waye. Online conversation about strategies to reduce inequity and increase inclusion in the business world.

Black in the C Suite at Canadian Club Toronto. February 17th. Meeting of pioneering executives who are working to foster and expand black leadership in business.

Readings by Kelly Hayden at the Harris County Mobile Librarian for the whole family. Facebook Live at 10 a.m. on February 13. Kelly will share two picture books written by African American authors.

25 years after the National Black History Month enacted by the House of Commons in 1996 came into effect, Canada is recognized as a multicultural country, committed to social justice, equity and inclusion. It has opened its doors to millions of immigrants, not only of African American descent but from all corners of the world to make it a prosperous nation. Let’s continue to honor and commit to this legacy.

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