Across North America, February’s Black History Month is a time to honour and remember the legacy of the black community. “We celebrate Black History Month not only because of Canada’s diversity but because learning about a different culture helps expose all of us to different perspectives,” said Kendal, a Grade 11 student.
Kendal is a member of Branksome’s Afri-View Club, which led our Black History Month assembly. “Afri-View Club was created for the black students at our school to have a place to go to discuss what it’s like being black at a predominantly white school,” said Grade 11 student, Ava, a club member. “Growing up, I’ve had a lot of mixed feelings about being mixed, no pun intended, and being in this club gives me a great place to go to discuss these parts of me.”
The club meets on a regular basis and around once a month they also hold joint meetings with other schools, including Havergal College, Bishop Strachan School and Upper Canada College. “It’s very interesting to meet and learn from people from different schools and I end up learning something new about someone's experiences, or understanding a new perspective,” said Ava.
Also discussed in assembly was the success of the club’s first Toronto Black Youth Conference. More than 100 participants attended the conference, which was created and hosted by club members. “I believed that it was important to create a space for black youth where we could learn more about the excellence and potential we possess,” said Rayne, a Grade 12 student and conference organizer.
The conference consisted of four workshops, including Black Girl Magic, Black Boy Power, Promoting Good Mental Health and “Blackademics,” all led by leaders in the black community. “I participated in the Black Girl Magic session, and I can genuinely say that having the opportunity to be in a space where you can interact with people who have similar backgrounds and experiences to your own is incredibly comforting,” said Jade, a Grade 11 student and club member. “The sessions on mental health and academic success were personal and informative, and were chances to gain guidance which might not be possible otherwise.”
The conference began with an address by Petal Farquharson, Vice-Principal at L'Amoreaux Collegiate Institute. “She spoke about Black Excellence and the importance of considering future goals when making decisions in the present,” said Jade. Multiple career mentoring sessions capped off the day with a round-robin style career fair. “Participants left the conference inspired, enlightened and motivated to continue to explore their Black Excellence,” said Rayne.