Interviews by Jason Setnyk | Image from the Cornwall Public Library
Cornwall, Ontario – The Black History Makers of Cornwall panel is happening on Saturday, February 25th, 2023, at 2 pm, in Programming Rooms 1 and 2 at the Cornwall Public Library. Guest speakers include Senator Bernadette Clement, City Councillor Fred Ngoundjo, and Citizen of the Year Lee Theodore. Stacey Ottley, co-founder of CUREA, will be the moderator of the event.
“The 2023 theme for Black History Month is “Ours to tell.” On the one hand, it is an opportunity to talk openly and honestly about the histories, challenges, and accomplishments of Black communities in Canada. On the other, it is also about making a commitment to centering Black history, Black people, and Black communities in everything we do. Many forget that “Black History” is 365 days a year.
With that being said, I am thankful to the Cornwall Public Library for creating a platform for us to tell our stories. I am looking forward to listening, learning, and being inspired by 3 of Cornwall’s Black History makers. I have had the opportunity to encounter many other Black History makers in Cornwall who deserve a spotlight for their contributions to the community. Hopefully, they are afforded a similar opportunity to be recognized for their histories, challenges, and accomplishments,” said CUREA co-founder Stacey Ottley.
Black History Month is a significant time in Canada when the contributions and achievements of Black Canadians are recognized and celebrated. This event takes place annually in February and has been observed since the late 1960s. The purpose of Black History Month is to raise awareness about the rich and diverse history of Black Canadians, as well as to educate the public about the challenges they have faced and continue to face.
“Black History Month is a unique and important time for the Black community in our country; that makes Canada great! This period allows us to celebrate our identity, history, and heritage, while projecting ourselves into the future to contribute to the building of Canada. For me, participating in the Cornwall Library event gives me the opportunity to share my life experiences within my city and my community. I feel humbled and lucky,” City Councillor Fred Ngoundjo remarked.
“Black History as a concept is important because it is embedded into the timing of our culture. While observing calendar events can have shortcomings, when we participate in this window of time, we derive the most cultural benefits,” Citizen of the Year Lee Theodore stated.
The contributions of Black Canadians to the history and development of Canada cannot be overstated. Black Canadians have played a significant role in shaping the country in various fields, including politics, science, sports, and the arts.
“Did you know that Willie O’Ree was the first Black Player in the NHL in 1950? He is from New Brunswick and played for the Boston Bruins. Neither did I. In this way, we make room WITHIN history after a time when Black People were diminished from history”, Lee Theodore added.
Today, Black History Month is celebrated in many different ways across Canada, with events and activities being held in schools, community centers, libraries, and other venues. Some popular events include lectures, musical performances, film screenings, and exhibitions that showcase the contributions of Black Canadians to the country’s culture and history. In addition, many organizations and institutions offer special programming and events to mark the occasion, including museum exhibits, art shows, and other cultural events.
“It’s Black History Month, and my calendar is officially full! I’ll be sharing photos and reflections after these events (including the panel at the Cornwall Public Library),” Senator Bernadette Clement shared on social media.
Despite its importance, Black History Month is not without its challenges. Some argue that the celebration of Black history should not be confined to just one month, and that the achievements of Black Canadians should be recognized and celebrated year-round. Others believe that Black History Month is not given the attention and support it deserves, and that more resources and funding should be allocated to ensure its success.
Black History Month is a time to inspire and empower Black individuals and communities. By highlighting the contributions and achievements of Black people, it helps to foster a sense of pride and dignity, and to provide a source of inspiration and motivation for future generations. In addition, it is an opportunity for people of all races and cultures to come together and learn about each other’s experiences and perspectives. It helps to build bridges and promote greater understanding and appreciation for the diverse cultures and backgrounds that make up our society.
In conclusion, Black History Month is an important time in Canada when the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians are recognized and celebrated. It is a time to reflect on the rich and diverse history of this community and to acknowledge the challenges they have faced and continue to face. As a country, Canada must continue to support and celebrate Black History Month and the contributions of Black Canadians to the nation’s cultural and historical heritage.
“This year is a special one for myself as I have been asked to join a panel conversation around being Black in our rural region. If you are interested in local Black voices, February 25th at 2 pm, the Cornwall Library welcomes the public, and so do I,” Lee Theodore concluded.
UPDATE: When listing prominent Black Canadians in this article, some information was incorrect or could not be fact-checked. Therefore, those details have been removed. Our apologies.