During the month of February, the Toronto District School Board proudly recognizes African Heritage Month. It is an occasion to celebrate the many achievements and contributions of peoples of African descent to Canada and the world. The chosen theme for 2021-2022 is NIA: Walking in Our Purpose.
The first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament, the Honourable Jean Augustine, introduced a motion to recognize February as Black History Month. The motion was carried unanimously by the House of Commons. In December 1995, the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month in Canada. At the Toronto District School Board, a motion to recognize African Heritage (Black History) Month was carried in January 2002 and reaffirmed again in January 2004.
An artwork created by students under the leadership of their teacher, Matthew Chapman, from Downsview Secondary Schools in 2020 has been updated to showcase this year’s theme NIA: Walking in Our Purpose. Five principles of Kwanzaa are presented in this painting:
- Umoja (unity) the tattoo
- Nia (purpose) the logo on the shoe
- Kuumba (creativity) the logo on the shirt
- Imani (faith) the brand tag on the hijab
- Kujichagulia (self determination) found in the fabric of one of the shirts.
There were almost 1.2 million Black people living in Canada in 2016. The Black population is diverse and has a long and rich history in Canada. This dates back as early as 1608 with Mathieu De Costa who came from Holland to Canada to work as a French interpreter. There was also a large settlement of Blacks in New French in and around 1734 with Marie Joseph Angelique. During the 1850’s and 1860’s many Blacks fled to Canada from the United States seeking refuge from enslavement because of the Trans Atlantic Trade.
Among the Black population born outside of Canada, the source countries of immigration have changed over time. More than half of this population who immigrated before 1981 were born in Jamaica and Haiti. Black newcomers now come from about 125 different countries, mainly from continent of Africa.
The African Heritage Month Volunteer Planning Committee continues to name, notice, and disrupt anti-Black racism through their organized initiatives shared throughout the TDSB and commitment to hold space for Black students, staff, parents, and families, to heal, to celebrate and to thrive. We are excited to share more information about African Heritage Month (power point).
During the month of February, several activities are being planned and they include a virtual launch to kick-off African Heritage Month (see details below) as all staff, students and the TDSB community are invited to attend! We are especially proud of the establishment of a scholarship fund, called Know Your Worth Scholarship. The African Heritage Month Volunteer Planning Committee’s goal is to award three scholarships annually, specifically, the first award, named “Kujichagulia”; which means “Self-determination”, celebrates students who accomplish academic excellence. The second financial award is titled “Kuumba”; which means Creativity. The students use art, in its many forms, including environmental stewardship, to express themselves. The third financial award, Umoja; which means “Unity”, calls for us to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race. This award allows for student applicants to demonstrate their leadership at school or in their community. Supporting our students in a substantial and meaningful way in their first year of life at a post-secondary institution is important to us. Your donation to the Know Your Worth Scholarship fund is welcome, and all on-line donations are tax deductible. Additionally, all cheque donations of $25.00 and greater qualify for tax receipts.
Additional activities for students include: Know Your Worth “Black Youth Empowerment” Conference: Standing in Our Truth and the further expansion of the Black Student Alliances across our schools including a celebration of students for their exceptional work! For our staff, a Know Your Worth Educators’ Conference - Resilience: Building Visions of Black Excellence has been organized.
Follow us on Twitter @tdsbAFricanHM and Instagram @tdsb_african_hm.
African Heritage Month Virtual Celebration Launch
Date: Tuesday, February 1, 2022
Time: 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm
Everyone is welcome to join for a virtual celebration that includes speakers and entertainment.