As February begins, many in the community begin to mark Black History Month and its importance in today’s world.
Black History Month is dedicated to celebrating and paying tribute to the accomplishments, contributions, and communities of Black Canadians and Americans. The impact of Black communities on shaping Canada’s heritage and identity is significant, fostering an environment of acceptance, creativity, innovation, and cultural diversity.
However, while Black History Month is marked in February, its significance exists outside of this dedicated period. Throughout the year, the history and achievements of Black Canadians exert a continuous influence on academia, universities, and students. Black History Month serves as a reminder that Black history is an integral part of our lives every month of the year.
Building off this theme, it is imperative to remember that the Black community has been subjected to racism, discrimination, suspicion, profiling, and many other inequities because of the colour of their skin. Over the past year, research and studies have shown that 47 percent of Black Canadians have perceived racism in the workplace. A similar trend is seen in the education sector, where 73 percent of Black Canadians say that they consider racism a serious or very serious issue within the education system. However, only 36 percent of white Canadians agreed with this statement. Hence, we, as a student community, need to strive towards putting an end to racial injustices, eliminating barriers to education and progression, and dismantling policies that sustain disparities throughout the entire year.
Kindly pause to consider the courage and resilience displayed by members of the Black community. It is imperative for each of us to persist in the crucial tasks of self-reflection, purposeful engagement in anti-racism efforts, and the unlearning of anti-Black racism. Let’s reflect on actions we, as students and as a representative organization of students, can take to ensure that racism, discrimination, and oppression find no place here at the University of Waterloo.
Continuing from last year’s theme, the BHM theme of 2024 is “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now – Telling Our Story, Writing Our History” which looks to highlight the history and experiences of Black Canadians, as they utilize their distinct perspectives and artistic vision to communicate messages of reclaiming identity and empowerment.
Extend your learning, conversations, and celebrations beyond February by exploring a brief history of Black experience at Waterloo. The university as we recognize it today has been molded by individuals of African descent who have excelled as leaders, scholars, innovators, and creatives.
Use Black History Month as an opportunity to further your education and engage in workshops offered by both the university and the community for continuous learning and unlearning.
WUSA & University of Waterloo learning opportunities:
Community resources to advance your learnings:
Educate yourself through the University of Waterloo programs, minors, and diplomas that involve learning and advocating for the Black community and other marginalised groups i.e.:
Celebrating Black Student Excellence
WUSA is committed to amplifying and highlighting Black undergraduate student voices. Please join us on the @yourWUSA Instagram for a takeover from Racial Advocacy for Inclusion, Solidarity and Equity (RAISE) during the second week of Feb.
Additionally, for three Saturdays this month, we will feature a Black-facing, student-run club! They will share their accomplishments, events, the importance of their club and Black History Month, and more. Here is our list of featured clubs:
- AfroXDance Club
- African Student Association (ASA)
- Association of Caribbean Students
- Black Association for Student Expression, UW (UW BASE)
- CariVybz Dance Company
- North African Student Association
- QTPOC KW
- Somali Student Association
Below is a quick, non-exhaustive list of support systems for students in the WUSA and Waterloo communities.
University of Waterloo: