Ways to learn and get inspired during Black History Month

Every February, organizations and people across Canada host and participate in Black History Month events that honour the legacy of Black Canadians and their communities. The 2021 theme for Black History Month, as set by the Government of Canada, is “The Future is Now” dedicated to celebrating and acknowledging the transformative work that’s being done now.

For the first time in 25 years, all celebrations are going to be virtual. We have rounded up a list of five interesting and meaningful ways you can participate in Black History Month from home.

Participate in and host online events

Amplify Black voices and celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Black Canadians and their communities who, throughout history, have done so much to make Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate, and prosperous nation it is today. If you are a business owner or an employer, consider hosting an online celebration to talk to your employees about Black history, and showcase Black excellence in its many forms. You can also sign up for the following events:

  • TD’s Black History Month 2021: To honour Black Canadians, TD is hosting a series of conversations and interactive activities – Provincial Black Canadians Symposium – which is a three-day Symposium, from Feb. 4-6, on the Canadian Strategic Plan for the Decade of People from African Descent in Victoria.
  • University of Toronto’s 2021 Black History Symposium – Honoring the Diversity of Black Leaders and Agents of Change – Join the University of Toronto as it explores anti-Black racism activism in diverse spaces and the role of post-secondary environments in transforming anti-Black racism advocacy, from 10 am to 12 pm on Feb. 8. Here’s a full overview of the 2021 Black History Symposium
  • Toronto Black Film Festival: This online film festival features more than 150 titles from 25 countries, including Youssef Delara’s drama Foster Boy and Mia Donovan’s Dope Is Death, plus panel talks and kids’ programming. It runs from Feb. 10-21. Prices differ, an all-access pass can be purchased for $69. You can learn more about the film festival here.

Take virtual field trips

It’s not the same experience – we miss wandering the hallways soaking it all in – but try taking virtual field trips to museums, cultural centres, historic sites and other important institutions. You’ll still be able to learn a ton:

  • The Manitoba Museum, in collaboration with Black History Manitoba, is providing free Black History in Canada virtual field trips on February 10, 17, 24 and March 3. This series is sponsored in part by the Canada Post Community Foundation.
  • This Black History Month, Google Arts and Culture is allowing people to take virtual field trips through more than 80 partner museums and institutions that focus on Black history and experience in the U.S.
  • Microsoft is celebrating Black History Month virtually throughout February 2021 in alliance with museums, cultural centres and historic sites all around the U.S. Microsoft Community is curating a customized series of immersive virtual experiences for K-12 Students, highlighting stories of today’s African-American significant figures. A calendar of pre-set events that are open to any group/school of any size can be viewed here.

Be a part of discussions

The tech community has been taking steps to uproot the systemic racism that’s been present in the industry. To paint a quick picture, less than four per cent of roles at Facebook, Google, or Microsoft are held by Black employees. There is only one Black woman currently serving as a Fortune 500 CEO in the U.S. Many firms are organizing virtual discussions to celebrate the Black community this month and devise ways to foster it. You can do that, too! 

Here are some conversations or discussions you can be a part of this month:

  • The Black Experience in Business and Technology by Waye: Waye is hosting on Feb. 16 an online conversation on strategies that can be implemented to bridge the diversity and inclusion gap in the tech community and corporate world. 
  • Black in the C Suite by Canadian Club Toronto: Join Canadian Club Toronto on Feb. 17 as they convene a group of trailblazing executives who are doing the work to nurture and amplify Black leadership in business. Last year saw leaders across Canada recommit to the important work of diversity in talent acceleration. This panel discussion will highlight what’s working and what’s missing.

Invest in Black organizations

  • Donate by watching movies: Cineplex has put together a collection of important films was curated to elevate Black history, artists and filmmakers and spark discussion.​ Watch Hidden Figures, Selma, John Lewis Good Trouble and more. Cineplex says $1 from every transaction in Feb. will be donated to The Black Academy to foster opportunities for young and emerging Black talent in Canada’s entertainment industry. The Black Academy is a division of the not-for-profit B.L.A.C.K Canada which is completely supported through community donations.
  • Bridge for Change: Bridge for Change is an initiative to raise the remaining $1.2 million to fully fund the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora endowment at York University. Since 2007, with York and community support, $1.8 million has been raised thus far towards the $3 million goal. Augustine, the first Black woman elected to the Parliament of Canada championed the unanimous vote to officially designate February as Black History Month in Canada. Now 25 years later, she is calling on the community and corporations to come together in honour of her legacy to complete the fundraising campaign. The fundraiser began on Feb. 1 and wraps up on Feb. 25. 

Virtual storytime

  • Virtual Read & Relax: Scoop up your children, and join Kelly Hayden, a Mobile Librarian for Harris County Public Libraries, on Facebook Live at 10 am on Feb. 13 for a special edition of its Read & Relax series. In this relaxing read-along celebrating African American History Month, Kelly will share two beautiful picture books written by African American authors.
  • Race & Social Justice Book Club: The club uses fiction and non-fiction to explore timely concepts such as the construction of race in our society and its legal, political, and social impacts. This month’s selection is Caste by the Pulitzer-prize winning author Isabel Wilkerson, and the club will be reading it at 7 pm on Feb. 23. You can register here to attend the session online for free. 


 

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Pragya Sehgal
Can be contacted at psehgal@itwc.ca or 647.695.3494. Born and raised in the capital city of India - Delhi - bounded by the river Yamuna on the west, Pragya has climbed the Himalayas, and survived medical professional stream in high school without becoming a patient or a doctor. Pragya now makes her home in Canada with her husband - a digital/online marketing fanatic who also loves to prepare delicious meals for her. When she isn’t working or writing around tech, she’s probably watching art films on Netflix, or wondering whether she should cut her hair short or not.

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