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February to be recognized as Black Heritage Month rather than Black History Month

Guelph Black Heritage Society proposed a name change from Black 'History' Month to commemorate past and present accomplishments within the Black community
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Guelph's Black lives matter march in June. GuelphToday file photo

The Guelph Black Heritage Society (GBHS), in collaboration with the University of Guelph’s Cultural Diversity Office and the Guelph Black Student’s Association, has announced it will recognize February 2021 as Black Heritage Month.

For over 25 years, February has been referred to as Black History Month in Canada, following a motion introduced by the Honourable Jean Augustine – the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament. It is the month in which we celebrate the contributions that Black historical figures have made to our society. Names like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King Jr. – and more recently, Viola Desmond – are well engrained in our minds. Celebrating the past has always been the focal point of Black History Month. In 2021, the Guelph Black Heritage Society and its partners have decided to do things a little differently.

GBHS president Denise Francis proposed the change to Black Heritage Month, and the Board of Directors, collaborators and partners enthusiastically supported this initiative. This month will commemorate past and present accomplishments within the Black community and set sights on our bright future ahead. While we will continue to acknowledge the resilience and bravery of those who came before us, we must recognize that Black history and experiences are much more than the narrative of slavery.

In 2020, Black activists and community members have once again proved the resilience of Black people worldwide. These social justice warriors have continuously put anti-Black racism at the forefront of society’s consciousness with grace and determination.

“But with all this unrest, uncertainty and lack of love - we are learning to be better, more connected, how fight for our rights and how to leave our mark,” says GBHS executive director, Kween. “This isn't about being in fear of what is to come – but rather be brave for what can change for the future of our BIPOC communities.”

During Black Heritage Month 2021, the GBHS will feature its #ChangeStartsNow initiative, providing virtual educational programming on Black heritage and culture as well as relevant resources on diversity, discrimination and anti-racism. The GBHS calls on the community to honour our past, celebrate today, and look toward the future.