MGCI is highly involved in running events for Black History Month, with nine events in the first week alone. Mr. Alexander, Garneau’s equity representative, is responsible for planning the events. He has planned numerous events that are spaced out periodically so that students can enjoy the celebrations for the full month of February, rather than in, say, a one-day assembly.

Many students believe that Black History Month is important to the school because it helps raise awareness about the importance of different ethnic backgrounds. Rashad Brugmann, in Grade 12, said that it was “important for our student body and staff to be conscious of the implications of racial history on social challenges that different groups face today.”

The first of Marc Garneau’s many events to celebrate Black History Month began on Monday 3 February. Mr. Alexander organized a viewing of a documentary entitled “On the Shoulders of Giants” in the library after school. As an introduction to the month, the documentary focused on the struggles of African American basketball players in the 1930s. However, due to insufficient preparations in promoting the event, only two students and three teachers were present for the documentary.

The following day, the International African Inventors Museum was set up in the school’s library. This consisted of nearly one hundred displays lined up, a monumental African featured in each one, displaying the contributions of the African community in Western society. The booths covered everything from historians to astronauts, scientists to engineers, inventors to doctors. The museum was a travelling one, meaning that it contained portable exhibits that would move on to another school at the end of the day. The exhibit’s curator, Mr. Jeffers, walked around the displays talking to interested students and highlighting key aspects of the museum.

Grade 12 student Hajra Memy commented that the museum “really makes a difference” in “promoting awareness” about Black History Month.

Mr. Jeffers is curator of this Black History exhibit, which travels between high schools, colleges, universities, and other events.

Mr. Jeffers is curator of this Black History exhibit, which travels between high schools, colleges, universities, and other events. Photo: Jackie Ho

Not all of the visitors present were students. Mr. Christopher Harding, a former teacher at MGCI, visited the travelling museum and said that he thought the museum was able to promote the truth about the history of black citizens in North America. “It gets students thinking…the media portrays blacks poorly.” He said that events such as Black History Month will give students insight on the truth of the matter.

Three classes gathered in one classroom on 4 February to listen to motivational speaker Sean Mauricette, also known as Subliminal. Subliminal is an experienced presenter and has spoken for many different presentations. Using his personal life experiences as a guide, his goal has been to connect with the students to encouraged them to encourage new things. As he put it, “You never know where things can take you. Don’t be afraid to try.”

On 6 February, Marika Fraser, TTC Special Placement Services Officer, spoke to Mr. Skara’s Grade 12 class. She focused on the power of resilience, and every student’s ability to achieve anything they want to do with hard work and perseverance. She hoped that students could use this message to be empowered for post-secondary life – be it in college, university, or in the work force. By using anecdotes about her own personal experiences as a Black immigrant woman, she was able to get her message across loud and clear. Fraser strongly believed in the importance of Black History month. As she put it, “Black History month encourages you to see the differences of where people came from, and it encourages you, since you are all working in the same direction.”

Mr. Alexander anticipates that MGCI’s celebration of Black History Month will allow students to gain exposure in the contributions of the members of the African community. As well, he hopes that students will be able to enjoy the celebrations of Black History Month together. He commented that “What I do know is that each event, like each student and teacher and community, has a pulsating positive vibe at its core, brought together by both the speaker, the audience, and the situation — and it is up to each of us to tap into it and then keep it alive. We are our own Black History Month celebration, and we are, together, making history.”