Black History Month events conclude

Clubs’ efforts highlight the impact of Black Canadians  

While Black History Month has ended, student clubs are aiming to keep its message relevant.

Since Jan. 27, Queen’s campus hosted events spotlighting the valuable presence of Black identities on campus. Queen’s Black Academic Society (QBAS) and African Caribbean Student Association (ACSA), worked together to bring the events and awareness to students. 

Meanwhile, on Feb. 9, the University Club hosted Janice Miller, the High Commissioner for Jamaica to Canada. Miller spoke about perseverance, professionalism, and the past and present of Black identity and culture. 

Other events hosted included dance workshops, film viewings, and culinary experiences highlighting the value of African and diaspora communities.

While working to bring these events to fruition, QBAS brought an online dimension to Black History Month through the #IAmRobertSutherland campaign. 

“Our goal is to honour significant Black Canadians whose images, legacies, and efforts have gone unnoticed in our history,” said QBAS Administrative Officer Dayna Richards, in an email to The Journal.

The #IAmRobertSutherland campaign featured inventor Elijah McCoy, first female publisher in North America Mary Ann Shadd, author Josiah Henson, activist Rosemary Brown, and Queen’s alumni and lawyer, Robert Sutherland. 

The campaign highlighted the achievements and resilience of Black individuals. It also demonstrated the lack of recognition of Black culture and identity within conceptions of the Canadian past and present.

“The reality is that Queens is a predominantly white institution and if it weren’t for the efforts of [ACSA], [QBAS], and a few professors and humanities courses, Black history in general would either be non-existent or severely watered down,” Richards said.

She added that while the University does provide courses available in the Faculty of Arts and Science that specifically focus on black contributions in given fields, QBAS and ACSA’s work is different. 

It's supplementary, ensuring education about Black history throughout the year that isn't stratified to disciplines and specific courses.

QBAS and ACSA hope to provide an approach to Black History Month that supports ongoing discussions around history, but also inclusivity at Queen's.

"Students are often given a very Eurocentric narrative of the history of Canada which undeniably overlooks the substantial contributions made by Black individuals," Richards said. "Black History Month is a tool in which educators across the country can use to present an accurate account of Canadian history."

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