With the calendar change to February, it marks the launch of Black Heritage Month in Guelph.
There are various events and activities in town, many of them organized by the Guelph Black Heritage Society and many of them are virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Since December 2020, the organization has referred to the annual celebration as “Black Heritage Month” and not “Black History Month,” as it is commonly known.
Guelph Black Heritage Society President Denise Francis said in an interview Monday that they made the change because the term “history” focuses on the past and narrative of slavery.
He explained that they want to look beyond that while still recognizing the bravery of those who came before us.
“So we acknowledge the history and the experiences, but we also call on our community to celebrate today, look to the future and also honor the past,” Francis said. “So we feel like ‘heritage’ is more encompassing of the past, present and future than the term Black History Month.”
Throughout the month, several buildings in downtown Guelph will also light up red, gold and green to represent the colors of Nova Scotia’s African flag, which was first unveiled in February 2021 and created by the artist Wendie L. Wilson.
The flag, whose colors are used by people of African descent around the world, will be raised at City Hall on Wednesday at 8:30 am to kick off Black Heritage Month in Guelph.
Two of the planned events, the BIPOC mental wellness trip on Thursday and the de-escalation workshop on February 10, are reserved for Black, Indigenous and people of color and their families.
Francis said that they are an inclusive organization, but sometimes the BIPOC community needs a safe space.
“When we’re together, we can talk a little more freely and it’s a little more comfortable,” he said. “There will be opportunities for the broader community to participate, but we believe that especially in Black Heritage Month, we need to provide a safe space for our community to come together.”
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Along with the events, which are free and donations encouraged, the organization has also worked with Royal City Brewing to bring out Latern Ale, which is available at the brewery on Victoria Road.
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All proceeds from Black Heritage Month will go to the Guelph Black Heritage Society’s Give a Cup campaign, which is selling a unique blend of its own coffee to raise money to pay off the mortgage on its Essex Street location so you can focus on the culture funding. and educational initiatives.
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Even with all the work that has gone into planning and organizing the events and fundraising efforts, Francis said all the topics will still be relevant when the month is over.
“I always tell people that we are still black on March 1,” he said. “And we remain black throughout the year and these issues continue to be important to us.”
More information about the events can be found in the Guelph Black Heritage Society website.
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