In recognition of February's Black History Month, schools in the Halton District School Board have planned events and initiatives to celebrate and honour the contributions of Black Canadians, past and present.
“February is a time when we formally recognize, honour and reflect upon the invaluable contributions Black Canadians have made intellectually, politically, artistically, culturally, and so much more, to the vibrancy and rich diversity that help define our country," said Stuart Miller, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board. “During this month, and all year long, we will highlight the learning in classrooms to affirm and promote the achievements, knowledge, life experiences and identities of people of African and Caribbean descent in all curriculum areas. We are honoured to have named schools after individuals who were integral to the Underground Railroad in bringing freedom and opportunities to thousands of people escaping slavery."
To highlight Black History Month, a Board-wide project, which includes the participation of a total of nine elementary and secondary schools, will be unveiled at the end of February. Collaborating with Natasha Henry, an African Canadian historian and president of the Ontario Black History Society, teachers started developing learning opportunities last fall to help students identify racism while highlighting Black Canadian experiences and contributions. Schools will showcase this learning on February 28 during an event at Joshua Creek Public School library in Oakville.
Halton District School Board staff members are using Black History Month as an opportunity to take learning about understanding the contributions of Black Canadians beyond the classroom. On February 8, Kelly Gray, a teacher from Emily Carr Public School, will be speaking at the Ireland House Museum (2168 Guelph Line, Burlington). The event starts at 6:30 p.m. In her presentation, I am Canadian: Reflections Past and Present, Gray will talk about Canada's Black explorers, slaves, pioneers and freedom fighters, and their contributions to Canadian life.
“Every February, schools in the Halton District School Board join others across Canada in celebrating Black History Month by recognizing the contributions of Black Canadians," said Rob Eatough, Superintendent of Education with the Halton District School Board. “Through events, activities and presentations, our students learn and honour the rich history, experiences, contributions and achievements of Canadians of African and Caribbean descent. Celebrating Black History Month aligns with the Equity and Well-being goals contained in the Board's Multi-Year Plan. Our goal is to ensure every student learns in a respectful culture of high expectations that values diversity, and that students will see themselves reflected in their learning. Together, we inspire every student to learn, grow and succeed."
Some of the events taking place at Halton schools to celebrate the month include:
• Irma Coulson Public School (Milton): On February 1, the group, Drums et al, will perform and kick off the beginning of Black History Month at the school. Students will learn about African heritage, listen to songs and folk tales, and learn to play African drums.
• Munn's Public School (Oakville): On February 8, the school will be hosting two performances to honour Black History Month. Grades 4-5 students will view The Spirit of Harriet Tubman, which depicts her life as an African-American abolitionist slave who helped many escape slavery through the Underground Railroad. Grades 6-8 students will view Things my Fore-Sisters Saw, written and performed by Leslie McCurdy. This one-person play will introduce students to four Black women who brought about significant social changes in Canadian history.
• Robert Bateman High School (Burlington): The Starlite Steelband will be performing traditional and popular calypso as well as reggae songs on February 15. Culinary program students will also be preparing and serving Caribbean-inspired appetizers to staff and students including jerk chicken wings, mini Jamaican patties, fried salt fish balls and vegetable rangoon wraps
• Craig Kielburger Secondary School (Milton): Hairstyling and esthetics teachers will engage in a workshop about race and black hair on February 21.
• Limehouse Public School (Halton Hills): Throughout February, students will share facts, contributions and musical influences of Black Canadians during morning announcements. In addition, the library will house a display to increase the school community's awareness of the month's celebrations.
For additional information, contact:
Rob Eatough, Superintendent of Education
Halton District School Board
905-335-3663 Toll free: 1-877-618-3456