Press release submitted by Guelph Black Heritage Society
The Guelph Black Heritage Society (GBHS), in collaboration with the University of Guelph’s Cultural Diversity Office and the Guelph Black Student’s Association, has announced it will recognize February 2021 as Black “Heritage” Month.
For over 25 years, February has been referred to as Black History Month in Canada, following a motion introduced by the Honourable Jean Augustine – the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament. It is the month in which we celebrate the contributions that Black historical figures have made to our society. Names like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King Jr. – and more recently, Viola Desmond – are well engrained in our minds. Celebrating the past has always been the focal point of Black History Month. In 2021, the Guelph Black Heritage Society and its partners have decided to do things a little differently.
GBHS president Denise Francis proposed the change to Black “Heritage” Month, and the Board of Directors, collaborators and partners enthusiastically supported this initiative. This month will commemorate past and present accomplishments within the Black community and set sights on our bright future ahead. While we will continue to acknowledge the resilience and bravery of those who came before us, we must recognize that Black history and experiences are much more than the narrative of slavery.
During Black “Heritage” Month 2021, the GBHS will feature its #ChangeStartsNow initiative, providing virtual educational programming on Black heritage and culture as well as relevant resources on diversity, discrimination and anti-racism. The GBHS calls on the community to honour our past, celebrate today, and look toward the future.
The following FREE online events will be presented during Black Heritage:
AFTERSHOCK Art Show – Monday February 1, 2021 @ 6pm Aftershock is a mixed media art installation showcasing the creations of aspiring young artists in Guelph and the surrounding area. The Aftershock opening ceremony will feature a panel/Q&A discussion with the featured artists. The art show will be displayed throughout the month online. Register for the event here.
Black Leadership in Anti-Black Spaces with Dr. Laura Mae Lindo, MPP Kitchener Centre – Thurs. February 4, 2021 @ 6pm Join Dr. Laura Mae Lindo in a conversation about what it means to Lead While Black in an Anti-Black World. Register for the event here.
The Anti-Black Racism Workshop with Selam Debs – Wednesday February 10, 2021 @ 6pm. Selam Debs will speak from her lived experience as a Black Ethiopian Womxn and her study in Antiracism, Anti-Oppression, Black Sovereignty and Critical Race Theory. Register for the event here.
Guelph Black Students Association presents: Black + Mental Health + Matters Workshop – Wednesday February 17, 2021 @ 6pm. Black + Mental Health + Matters workshop is designed to be a place of refuge for Black people. Knowing that Black humans in North America face unique and specific barriers to mental wellness, this workshop provides a place for them to be seen and heard, both collectively and individually. Equipping participants with tools to help them heal and thrive, Black + Mental Health + Matters uses creative practices to center and uplift. Register for the event here.
Fourth Friday at the Guelph Civic Museum: Lifeandthetribe – Friday February 26, 2021 @ 7pm. Featuring a musical performance by Aisha Barrow. Lifeandthetribe is the new R&B and Pop project from singer/songwriter Aisha Barrow. Drawing from diverse influences Lifeandthetribe has a bold, fresh, and new sound that that can be best described as an amalgamation of Jazz, R&B, and Pop. After the successful release of their debut EP, Eye-sha: Extended, Lifeandthetribe is currently in the process of recording their first full length album, slated for release in 2021. More information can be found here.
Proceeds from Black Heritage Month events will support the #ChangeStartsNow education initiative. The Guelph Black Heritage Society (GBHS) is a registered charity. Registration # 80158 3907 RR0001. Tax receipts will be issued for donations $25 or greater.
Established in 2011, the mission of the Guelph Black Heritage Society is to restore and maintain Heritage Hall, originally known as the British Methodist Episcopal (BME) Church, built in 1880 by former fugitive slaves who arrived in the area via the Underground Railroad. Our mandate is to preserve the Heritage Hall as a cultural heritage building, representing the historical, present, and continued influence of the Black community on the quality of life in Guelph/Wellington and across the county. This is achieved by raising awareness in Guelph of both local (Guelph and Wellington County) and national Black heritage as well as addressing social issues of importance to Black Canadian communities.