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U of G announces new Black Canadian Studies Program slated for 2022

The new program steams from the universities Anti-Racism Action Plan and is one of two programs in Canada focused on the study of the Black Canadian experience
20210921 University of Guelph file photo RV
University of Guelph

A new program focusing on the histories, experiences, cultural identities and communities of Black people in Canada is slated to commence at the University of Guelph in the 2022 fall semester.

The Black Canadian Studies minor stemmed from the Anti-Racism Action Plan the university updated earlier this year in a bid to foster a safe educational, working and living environment.

The creation of the Black Canadian studies minor was led by Jade Ferguson, an English professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies, in collaboration with the Guelph Black Students Association.

"The new Black Canadian Studies program will introduce students to the culturally rich and vibrant communities of Black Canada and beyond,” said Ferguson in a news release from the university. “The multi-disciplinary program offers a wide range of courses, including community-engaged and experiential learning opportunities with the Guelph Black Heritage Society, courses that attend to the past, present and future of Black lives in Guelph and beyond.”

Kimberly Francis, a music professor in the School of Fine Art and Music and director of interdisciplinary programs for the College of Arts, helped to co-chaired the curriculum committee for the program.

“She (Ferguson) really brought people together that she has worked with, so she brought together students from the Guelph Black Student Association, graduate students who she knows through her own research, she brought together fellow colleagues, so we had a number of just exceptional voices a the table who were fundamental in shaping what this program looked like,” said Francis.

She added that it was extremely important to ensure this program was designed from the perspective of Black students at Guelph, and what it was those students saw was missing and how the gaps in learning could be facilitated. 

The U of G program is one of two programs offered in Canada, with York University offering a Black Canadian Studies certificate program.

Francis noted that the decision for the U of G to focus on Canadian history comes from two reasons, the first was making the program unique and important, and the second was from direct consultation from students.

“They wanted to know more about Black Canadians, they wanted to know more about their history,” said Francis.

The creation of the Black studies minor was one of the 14 points laid out by the university, which follows through on the earlier promise to create the program by incorporating an intersectional and interdisciplinary approach to Black studies.

“It is critical that the University of Guelph’s academic programming represents the diverse lived experiences and needs of the University community and the broader communities we serve,” said U of G president Charlotte Yates in a press release on the new program. “I am grateful to the students, faculty and staff whose hard work and advocacy has resulted in an intersectional and interdisciplinary program that reflects the important histories, realities and futures of Black Canadian communities.”

According to the U of G, their students engage with Black political and labour initiatives, as well as Black creative expression in the arts through literature, music, and narratives in popular media. Our purpose is to explore contemporary and historical questions and examine how Black people have worked to shape our society and contribute to our understanding of the world.

The new program announcement comes days after the U of G announced the university was among some 40 post-secondary institutions across Canada to sign the Scarborough Charter.

The charter sets out to fight Anti-Black racism and promote Black inclusion in Canadian post-secondary institutions.

The charter focuses on the four principles of black flourishing, inclusive excellence, mutuality and accountability, and holds universities accountable to the criteria laid out within the charter.


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Daniel Caudle

About the Author: Daniel Caudle

Daniel Caudle is a journalist who covers Guelph and area
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