February may be African Heritage Month, but groups at Brock University are working to ensure related dialogues continue well beyond the month’s end.
With a series of events and activities planned throughout February and March, the Brock African Heritage Recognition Committee (BAHRC) is working in partnership with other University groups and members of the larger Niagara community to encourage public discussion of African heritage.
Talks, guest lectures, panel discussions, a film screening and art exhibits — all free and open to the public — are among the events planned to take place on Brock’s main campus, as well as in downtown St. Catharines.
Associate Professor Jean Ntakirutimana, Chair of the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures (MLLC), stressed the importance of recognizing African heritage at Brock and in the wider community.
“We have traditionally been directly involved in the celebration of African Heritage Month in collaboration with members of the larger community because our institution has a social mission of promoting an inclusive education and more sensitivity to multiculturalism and multilingualism,” he said. “It is even more important as Brock University is becoming more racially diverse.”
Richard Ndayizigamiye, also a member of MLLC and BAHRC Co-chair, said February is “not only about the history of the African Holocaust, transatlantic slavery and its legacy in the Americas.”
“Africans and people of African descent have made great contributions to humanity through millennia via scientific discoveries, medical advances, technological innovations and cultural inventions. Unfortunately, these are often minimized in the West because of racism and ideologies affirming white supremacy and entrenched positions of socio-economic privilege. In the end, we all share one common humanity that traces back to Africa.”
This is the first African Heritage Month at Brock for Human Rights and Anti-Racism Advisor Kattawe Henry, who recently arrived at the University and was involved in organizing the many events.
“I am looking forward to connecting with and working for the Brock community,” she said.
“We want the culture at Brock to reflect a connection to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour), and one way we are doing this is to expand events into other months to encourage people to enjoy events and conversations throughout the year,” Henry said. “I hope to see these events grow throughout the years at Brock.”
African Heritage Month events include:
Black History Month Opening Reception: Hosted by the Brock University Students’ Union on Friday, Feb. 1 at Isaac’s Bar and Grill at 5 p.m.
The evening will consist of hors-d’oeuvres and refreshments, an address from Associate Professor of Sociology Tamari Kitossa, poetry readings by Lydia Collins, performances by Brock students and a special presentation of The Unauthorized Biography Series by Shaun Boothe.
Brock clubs will also be in attendance. The Brock East African Student Association (BEASA), the Brock University Ghana Association (BUGA) and Roots African Caribbean Society (Roots).
Attendees will have a chance to see what these clubs are all about, and how they can get involved. Spots can be booked at www.brockbusu.ca/bhm
Masks, Myths, and Masquerades Exhibition: Monday, Feb. 4 to Friday, March 1 in Brock’s James A. Gibson Library.
Saturday, Feb. 16 to Monday, March 3 at Rodman Hall Art Centre.
African Voices/Voix Africaines/Sauti Za Afrika: Members of the Niagara African diaspora community will join together Thursday, Feb. 28 to share in manifestos their thoughts and experiences in the Niagara region as visible minorities, shouting from the rooftop in English, French and African languages. The event takes place at Rodman Hall Art Centre at 7 p.m.
“The Sexual Abuse of Black Boys and Men: A hidden history”: A public presentation by Associate Professor of Sociology Tamari Kitossa will be held Saturday, March 2 at St. Catharines Public Library from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
A film screening of Wilma: The Story of a Black Canadian will be held Saturday, March 2 at St. Catharines Public Library from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
The Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) will host a Black History Culture Show on Friday, March 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. in Isaac’s Bar and Grill. The evening will feature performances from several BUSU club members, including rappers, singers and spoken word performers, as well as a fashion show. The event is free and open to the community.
Black and Proud panel discussion: Held Thursday, March 21 in Sankey Chamber from 5 to 7 p.m.
More information on each event will be available on experiencebu.brocku.ca in the coming days.