February 1 marks the beginning of Black History Month, recognized officially in Canada since 1995. This month offers us all an opportunity to celebrate the contributions that Black individuals and communities have made to Canadian society, history, and heritage.
These contributions likely began in the early 17th century, long before Canada was a nation. Some historians point to Mathieu Da Costa, an elusive figure of African heritage thought to have served as an interpreter between European and Indigenous populations. Others cite the more than 4,000 people of African descent who, starting in the late 1620s, lived and worked as slaves in British and French colonies that would one day become Canadian provinces. Both narratives significantly predate the existence of the more well-known Underground Railroad, a network of routes and shelters that enabled slaves fleeing American colonies to build new lives further north.
According to the 2021 Census administered by Statistics Canada, the Black population in Canada is incredibly diverse, encompassing over 300 ethnic or cultural origins and more than 450 languages. However, experiences of anti-Black racism and discrimination unify these disparate communities.
At the University of Toronto, the Scarborough Charter and Final Report of the Anti-Black Racism Task Force guide work across our three campuses to reassess policies and practices, pedagogy and research at our institution and celebrate the achievements of Black students, librarians, faculty, and staff. Through these and other intentional, institution-wide efforts, we continue building a university that dismantles barriers to Black inclusion. We become, in turn, a community open to change and self-reflection—a community with a true willingness to learn.
I urge all students, faculty, librarians, and staff to engage fully with Black History Month events and programs across our three campuses, and to support Black inclusion at the University of Toronto each day of the year.
PROGRAMMING & EVENTS
Find out what’s happening across U of T to celebrate Black History this month and beyond. Event submissions are also welcome.
Black History Month Symposium – What Has Changed: The Role of Attitudinal Barriers to Advancing Black Inclusion
(for all members of the U of T community)
February 6, 2023
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Format: Virtual – Zoom Platform
Join the Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office (ARCDO) for a virtual symposium that centres discussions on the role of addressing attitudinal barriers in efforts to address anti-Black racism within post-secondary environments. The symposium includes opening remarks by Dr. Njoki Wane (Professor & Chair, Department of Social Justice Education, OISE – University of Toronto) and Dean Charmaine Williams (Dean & Professor, Faculty of Social Work – University of Toronto), followed by a panel discussion with Black leaders within post-secondary education.
ARCDO Restore. Reflect. Action Session
Rest as Resistance
(for faculty, librarians, staff, students at U of T who identify as members of Black community)
February 10, 2023
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Facilitated by: Yamikani Msosa, Movement Instructor, Hill Studio
This session is for Black participants to engage with the practice of being (through meditation and movement), rather than consistently doing, an invitation to reframing cultures of overworking and productivity. This session is informed by the work of Tricia Hersey – rest as resistance.
Legacy & Excellence of Black Muslim Communities Workshop
(open to all students, staff, faculty, and librarians at U of T Scarborough campus)
February 13, 2023
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Facilitated by: Fosia Duale Virtue, National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM)
Location: In Person, Catalyst Centre, Environmental Sciences and Chemistry Building (ESCB), UTSC
Hosted by the UTSC Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Office, this workshop will begin with an overview mapping the diverse intersections comprising the Black Muslim experience in Canada, including a discussion of Anti-Black Islamophobia. This overview will be followed with a historical outlook drawing attention to the excellence, resilience, and resistance of Black Muslim communities globally. Attention will be given to the untold stories of Black Muslim change-makers who historically shifted the tides of their time. The workshop will conclude with practical resources and recommendations meant to support continual efforts of recognizing and affirming the wide-spanning contributions of Black Muslims in the making of our contemporary world.
For any questions related to this workshop, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Gathering and Lunch in celebration of Black History Month
(open to all students, staff, faculty, and librarians at UTM campus)
Friday, February 24, 2023
12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Location: UTM Room (Davis 3140)
Hosted by the UTM Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office, the UTM campus welcomes its members to join an in-person celebration of Black achievements and excellence. This will be a chance for attendees to build and strengthen connections in community over lunch. It will also be an opportunity to engage in disrupting narratives about what Black history means and recognize the powerful influences of Black individuals and communities across the country and beyond. The event will include a group viewing of the inspiring keynote address by Cameron Bailey at the 21st Annual Black History Month Luncheon.
For any questions about the UTM community lunch and celebration, please email: email@example.com.
For details on the luncheon presented by Division of University Advancement in partnership with Hart House, visit the Hart House Events Calendar.
Nation Building through Poetry: A Poet Laureate Cypher
Hart House in partnership with ARCDO
(for faculty, librarians, staff, students, and the external community)
February 28, 2023
7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Location: Hart House Theatre, 7 Hart House Circle, University of Toronto
Titilope Sonuga, Poet, Playwright and Performer
Randell Adjel, Transformational Speaker, Spoken Word Practitioner and Arts Educator
Rebecca Thomas, Poet, Outdoor Educator and Children’s Literature Author