Oshawa hosting Black History Month events to honour the contributions of the Black community

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Published February 1, 2023 at 4:37 pm

Black History Month has been celebrated in Ontario since 1993 and Oshawa has several events lined up to recognize and honour the resilience and enormous contributions the Black community has made to Oshawa, Durham Region and around the province.

  • Durham Region and several local partners are hosting Together We Rise: Excellence Through the Arts at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in downtown Oshawa Wednesday at 8 p.m.
  • Sonia Collymore and Dwight Davies will be performing at the Oshawa Seniors Community Centre (Conant Branch) February 9 at 6 p.m.
  • The History of Club Carib will be the focus of the Speakers Series at the McLaughlin Branch of then Oshawa Public Library February 21 at 6 p.m.
  • The Spirit of Harriet Tubman, a virtual play through the Oshawa Public Library at 1 p.m.

The Ontario Black History Society (OBHS) was established in 1978 and founders Dr. Daniel Hill and Wilson Brooks presented a petition to the City of Toronto to have February formally proclaimed as Black History Month, a request granted the next year.

The proclamation went province-wide in 1993 and OBHS President Rosemary Sadler then took the motion to Ottawa and to Jean Augustine – the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament – with Black History Month becoming recognized across the country in 1996.

Black Canadians and their communities have been a part of shaping Canada’s heritage and identity since the arrival of Mathieu Da Costa, a navigator and interpreter believed to be the first free African man to step foot on Canadian soil, as early as the 1600s.

The stories and contributions of Black people have largely been excluded from the key narrative of Canada’s history. Few Canadians are aware that people of African descent were among the Loyalists who came here after the American Revolution. Many don’t know that these Black Loyalists, along with other settlers and former slaves, persevered against racism and segregation to build strong and vibrant communities. Some of these communities, like Africville in the Maritimes, were destroyed by local governments.

Few people are aware of the fact that Black people were once enslaved in the territory that would eventually become Canada, nor do they know the stories of Black resistance that helped to lay the foundation for a more diverse and inclusive country.

Black History Month is an opportunity for people educate themselves on this largely untold history, and to learn local more about the past and ongoing contributions of Black people to the development of Canadian society.

The City of Oshawa has zero-tolerance for racism and condemns all racist acts of intimidation and violence. In July 2020 Council passed a motion that reconfirmed the City’s support on zero tolerance for racism in our community. Council and staff are committed to dismantling racism and, in particular, anti-Black racism in the Oshawa community.

 

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