Midway through the evening of the Sept. 30 Black Faculty and Staff Network (BFSN) Welcome Event – a gathering that welcomed Black faculty, staff and students – a student question came up for keynote speaker Dr. Mary Anne Chambers:
“How do you stay grounded? How do you still be yourself and remember your purpose?”
While others may rely on platitudes in their answer, Dr. Chambers, a former Ontario cabinet minister, lifelong education and community advocate, and current Chancellor at the University of Guelph, spoke from the heart.
“When I travel to different countries and see people that are in need, or women who grew up with no one left in their families but still have hope for life, or I go to a country where there is drought, poverty or famine – it keeps me grounded to recognize the privilege I have, the reasons I have to be humble, to be kind, to be generous, to be giving, to be grateful, and using all of that for the betterment of others.”
This answer, and Chambers’ honesty and self-reflection, resonated with the fifty event attendees. The gathering served as a place of engagement, support and community for Black-identifying faculty, staff and students at U of G. Attendees say the BFSN Welcome Event encouraged connection and provided resources to build community, two essential assets that are particularly helpful for new employees and students.
“Those words coming from a Black leader are monumental for most of us and the event felt shorter than it was because of how much we loved it,” said a student attendee. “The event made me feel like it wasn’t just me, or I – but we.”
For attendees, the event helped show a path forward to celebrate Blackness, not assimilate, and truly be oneself – boosting confidence and feelings of connectedness for many attendees.
The University of Guelph Black Faculty and Staff Network engages, supports and fosters community for Black-identifying faculty and staff at U of G. The network was established in November 2021 and seeks to ensure a safe, equitable environment for Black-identifying employees at the U of G.
Organizers and attendees are looking forward to more keynotes, community events and ways to connect. For questions or interest in joining the BFSN, email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @bfsn.uofg on Instagram.
BFSN Black History Month Movie Screening
Wednesday, Feb. 22 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Join us for a screening of Being Black in Toronto (2021), a short documentary that explores the lives and experiences of a diverse group of Black folks living and learning in Toronto. You have the option to join us in-person or online! For in-person attendees, we’ll have delicious Caribbean snacks and treats available to enjoy during the film. For those attending virtually, you’ll have the opportunity to receive an UberEats gift card for purchase of refreshments.
Register by Monday, Feb. 20 at 11:59 p.m. to secure your spot!