Abigail Barrett, coordinator with the cultural diversity program
Abigail Barrett

In celebration of Black History Month, the University of Guelph will host virtual events and on-campus initiatives and share stories throughout February.

Many of the events have been organized by the University’s Cultural Diversity Office within the Department of Student Experience and the Guelph Black Students Association (GBSA).

“Black History Month is a time of reflection, celebration and inspiration,” said Abigail Barrett, program coordinator with the Cultural Diversity Office.

“It is how we recognize and honour the contributions of Black people to our communities, those that have gone before us and folks who are still with us. Particularly on campus, it’s a way to show up for our students of African and Caribbean descent and a reminder from the University that we are here and we see you.”

image of Angela Culmer from her shoulders up standing with white and yellow balloons the back ground
Angel Culmer

Events organized by the GBSA and Cultural Diversity Office are based on the theme of “Cultivating Black Joy,” said Angel Culmer, GBSA president.

“From a first-hand perspective, as a member of the Black community, I have noticed that Black joy is commonly evoked from great company, good music, delicious food and fun activities,” said Culmer, who organized events along with Deneisha Hammith, Chioma Nwebube, Ava Richardson, Ellako’owoicho Odeh, Grace Guillaume and Mahsa Tavassoly, among others.

“So, this year, despite the restricted circumstances posed by the pandemic, our hope is for these events to evoke a sense of community among Black campus members all while maintaining safety as we come together to celebrate Black History Month.”

Events include:

  • Keynote address with Minna Salami

    Feb. 2 at 6 p.m.
    A virtual conversation on Black joy, empowerment and liberation with award-winning author and social critic Minna Salami.

  • Stirrin’ the Pot: Afro-Caribbean Cooking Class

    Feb. 8 at 5 p.m.
    Chef Vanessa Simon gives a virtual cooking class on creating delicious Caribbean dishes.

  • Workshop: Mapping Out Your Pleasure and Liberation

    Feb. 9 at 5 p.m.
    Hosted by sexual health educator Natty Love, this virtual workshop is an interactive and exploratory guide on how to begin liberating your sexual pleasure through a trauma-informed, African, Caribbean and Black lens.

  • Who’s Got Game? Virtual Games Nite

    Feb. 10 at 6 p.m.
    A virtual games night with prizes

  • Screening and Discussion of “Our Dance of Revolution”

    Feb. 11 at 6 p.m.
    A virtual screening of “Our Dance of Revolution,” a documentary that tells the story of how Black queer folks in Toronto resisted the forces of marginalization and rose up to become a vibrant, fierce community. This event is held in collaboration with Guelph Pride.

  • The Black Experience Workshop

    Feb. 15 at 6 p.m.
    Radical awakening, relearning and celebration is the focus of this virtual workshop led by local anti-racist educator Selam Debs.

  • Dislocation and Lost Identity in Beatrice and Croc Harry:
    A Conversation with Lawrence Hill

    Feb. 17 at 5 p.m.
    The College of Arts hosts a virtual conversation with Lawrence Hill, creative writing professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies and award-winning author, and Chimoa Nwebube, fourth-year student, former GBSA president and member of the President’s Anti-Racism Advisory Committee. Hill and Nwebube will discuss Hill’s latest children’s book, Beatrice and Croc Harry.

  • Workshop: Dancing through the Diaspora

    Feb. 28 at noon
    A virtual dance workshop featuring various styles from the African diaspora, including soca, dancehall and afro styles. This workshop is led by Guelph-based dance instructors Kween and Binty.

  • Breaking Barriers, Creating Connections

    March 2 at 6 p.m.
    This panel discussion and networking opportunity hosted at Cutten Fields by the Guelph Black Professionals and the Lang Students’ Association will support students from Black, Indigenous and people of colour communities. This event is being planned as an in-person experience, pending COVID-19 restrictions. Follow the Lang Students’ Association or Guelph Black Professionals on Instagram for more information and registration details.

The McLaughlin Library in collaboration with the GBSA has created a “Cultivating Black Joy” book collection. The collection will go live Jan. 31 and features Black-authored literary works that evoke and celebrate Black joy.

The University’s Department of Hospitality Services will offer menus during February featuring African and Caribbean cuisine.