More than 220 Black-identified students attended the fourth annual Black Brilliance Conference. This year’s theme was “Powerful in Our Own Skin,” and the conference, run by students at Downsview Secondary School, hosted students from 21 TDSB secondary schools as well as students from Shelbourne Ontario’s Upper Grand District School Board and Auburn High, Nova Scotia.
Students shared that they found the Black Brilliance Conference central to creating a sense of well-being and belonging. They commented: “I like that it was safe space and I couldn’t be judged for anything that I said,” “I liked the open environment and sense of community;” “I could share my stories,” “I felt I could be myself,” and “I loved that it was student-run.”
Student facilitators presented 10 workshops on issues such as Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome; Police Brutality; Black Brilliance in History; Black Face: Cultural Appropriation or Appreciation; and Fu Fu and Jerk Chicken: Our Histories and Connections. Students also participated in a student panel centering Black Brilliance founders and alumni and also worked on School Action Plans together with staff. School staff also participated in an educators’ session.
The conference organizing took hours of time and commitment of eight Black Brilliance Downsview student executive, 30 student facilitators, the support of Principal Bruno Berto and a strong Admin team, countless Downsview staff, Student Equity Program Advisors, and over 40 Downsview student volunteers.
Students' thoughts on this year’s theme, 'Powerful in Our Own Skin:'
“The ability to overcome everything we went through and will continue to go through.”
“Black Brilliance means Black Intelligence, Black Power, Black Unity and Black Excellence.”
“Getting rid of negative stereotypes placed on Black students to show that they can be more than successful.”