During the month of February, Marc Garneau’s Social Justice and Equity Committee (SJEC) organized a campaign as well as several events to recognize Black History Month. Black History Month is an annual observance in Canada, USA, and the United Kingdom to honour significant people and important events in African American history and heritage.

As part of SJEC’s campaign, a banner was displayed in the galleria with a timeline of the history of African Americans in Canada, as well as important Canadian events relating to their history.

Several posters made by Mr. Alexander’s ELD-E class were displayed on walls around the school, each with information about an African country. SJEC also had a social media campaign, as well as morning announcements commemorating important black history figures and events.

On 22 February, SJEC hosted a Black History Month presentation during Period 4 in Room 339. Three speakers from the University of Toronto were invited to talk about the importance of Black history. The guest speakers not only focused on Black history, but also its correlation with leadership. They talked about their personal hurdles in obtaining leadership roles as a minority, as well as their roles in black student engagement at the university due to under-representation.

University of Toronto students came in as guest speakers for Black History Month. Photo: Cindy Cui

To engage students in the discussion, the speakers conducted a question and answer session about their leadership experiences and how they could be different for minorities. Some of the main issues that surfaced were a lack of knowledge about opportunities, social networks, financial support, and self-motivation. There was a lot of discussion on social change and how marginalized communities can be improved. About twenty-five students attended, including two leadership groups who felt the knowledge they gained through the seminar was valuable.

On 27 February, during lunch, SJEC also hosted an interactive Black History Month activity in the galleria. There was a table set up in front of their timeline banner, and students were encouraged to answer trivia questions related to Black history to receive treats. Runners went around the school to encourage people to sign white paper doves, which will later be used to create another banner.

When Hira, a member of SJEC, was asked about the importance of Black History Month, she said, “Black History Month is about celebrating different cultures. Every month we do different things, but this month we focus on countries where Black culture is well represented.”

Lisa Wang, the president of SJEC, added, “It is about recognizing the significance of the contributions of different ethnic groups, particularly in Canada and countries in Africa.”

When asked what could be done to improve the campaign next time, Lisa responded, “I think we should have more presence in the galleria. This time, we limited it to just one event because we thought it would maximize the impact.”

Overall, SJEC worked tirelessly to raise awareness and honour Black History Month in Marc Garneau through their various events and campaigns, ultimately succeeding in showing the importance of celebrating and recognizing diversity.