‘Black history is Canadian history’: St. John’s kicks off Black History Month
Organizers of a flag-raising ceremony at St. John’s City Hall for Black History Month say the event was an important recognition of black history, but there is more work to be done.
Black Lives Matter Newfoundland and Labrador co-founder Raven Anderson said the ceremony highlighted the importance of Black History Month and its importance to the African diaspora around the world.
“Black history is Canadian history; everything matters,” Anderson said.
The flag ceremony, which included speeches and musical performances, ushered in Black History Month, which takes place every February. The City of St. John’s also issued a statement proclaiming Black History Month in the city.
Anderson said Black History Month is a time not only to reflect on the past but also to look at what still needs to be done.
“What needs to be fixed? Everything,” she said.
She called on allies and organizations to look at how they are engaging with the black community — beyond social media.
“What are you really doing to make your areas more inclusive?” She asked.
Anderson said the month is about celebrating both unity and diversity within the black community.
“We have such a tapestry of black people coming together,” she said.
“We should all celebrate our similarities, bring our similarities together and celebrate our differences, rather than viewing our differences as divisive.”
Brian Amadi, another organizer of the event, said Black Lives Matter NL aims to help Black people in the province express their individuality.
“Not only to be diverse as a Black person, but to be able to act within your diverse nature,” he said.
pave the way
Precious Familusi, also at Black Lives Matter NL, said Black History Month underscores the need for greater black representation in Canada’s K-12 history curriculum.
“There are so many heroes in Canadian history to celebrate, black women, black men who paved the way,” he said.
“As a black kid, studying a story that doesn’t reflect you or your background or where you come from — that can really affect you,” he said.
Familusi said he would like the provincial government to take the initiative to raise the Black History Month flag at the Confederation Building next year.
“It’s just a tradition that we’re going to continue, hopefully we’ll get bigger next year,” said Familusi.
For more stories about Black Canadians’ experiences—from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community—see Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.