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The University of Lethbridge celebrates Black History Month:
Moving toward Black Excellence and Black Flourishing

Black History Month is a celebration of the achievements and contributions of not only Black Canadians but also persons of Black, Caribbean or African Heritage. Every February, we recognize the contributions of Black people and Black communities, highlighting their significant and ongoing role in shaping Canada’s identity.

Black History Month celebrates the resiliency, flourishing, and determination to work towards a more equitable, inclusive and diverse country.

 

uLethbridge celebrates Black History Month: Moving toward Black Excellence and Black Flourishing
 

On November 18, 2021, the University of Lethbridge joined 40 universities from across Canada to endorse the Scarborough Charter — a commitment to eliminating anti-Black racism and advancing Black inclusion in Canadian higher education. In endorsing the charter, the U of L took a step forward in addressing social injustices of historically excluding marginalized voices and creating a safe space for all.

Creating a safe space consists of providing our students, staff and faculty the opportunity to celebrate and honour a key part of our history.

On February 1, 2022, the University of Lethbridge will begin celebrating Black History Month under the themes — Black Excellence and Black Flourishing — two key principles embedded in the Scarborough Charter. The month of February marks a historical moment of celebration for all Black people from Canadian, Caribbean and African Diaspora who have enriched our societies culturally, socially, politically and economically. By celebrating Black history, our University is creating another opportunity for brave conversations.

“By celebrating Black History Month, we live our commitment to recognize the contributions that have been made by our Black students, staff and faculty at the University of Lethbridge,” says Dr. Mike Mahon, president and vice-chancellor. “Thank you to everyone who has participated in putting this month’s events together.”

Executive Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Martha Mathurin-Moe, adds the month of February presents one opportunity to learn more about Black history and opens the door to further growth and understanding.

“Black History Month is more than the celebration of Black people one month out of the year. It is merely a starting point in recognizing the numerous contributions Black people continue to make to our communities, countries, and the world,” says Martha Mathurin-Moe. “For this Black History month, I encourage everyone, even after the month is over, to continue learning about the many scholars, innovators, cultural icons and activists who are pillars of Black Excellence and Flourishing in Canada and throughout the world. A great first step toward understanding the monumental positive impact of Black people on our society will be to join us online for the opening ceremony of Black History Month on February 1, 2022, at 10 a.m.”

 

Learn more about Black History Month and why it is celebrated. 

 

The presence, history and contributions of Black Canadians and their communities have not always been acknowledged or celebrated in all parts of Canada. Therefore, it is crucial to dedicate specific efforts to not only recognize but to learn about the contributions Black Canadians made in establishing the country and society we all know today.

There are several background events to the Black History Month celebration. However, it was not until February 2008 when Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black man appointed to the Canadian Senate, introduced the Motion to Recognize Contributions of Black Canadians and February as Black History Month that it became a nation-wide celebration. Although Black History Month is celebrated in February, it is important to honour the contributions of Black Canadians and Black communities throughout the year.

 

 

Celebrating Black History Month is another step forward towards advancing equity, diversity and Black inclusion at the University of Lethbridge. On November 18, 2021, uLethbridge joined more than 40 universities and colleges from across Canada in signing the Scarborough Charter, a commitment to eliminating anti-Black racism and advancing Black inclusion in Canadian higher education.

“The Scarborough Charter represents one of the ongoing commitments and a call to action from Canadian higher education institutions to do the hard work ahead to repair and reconcile their role in historically excluding marginalized groups,” said Dr. Mike Mahon, U of L president and vice-chancellor. “By signing the Charter, the University is committed to doing our ethical part in addressing these social injustices and to creating safe, inclusive spaces for all.”

Black History Month is about taking the time to not only honour and celebrate but to acknowledge, to remember, to listen and to create brave spaces for the voices of Black students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members to be heard. The events of 2020 were an important catalyst propelling anti-blackness into the social discourse. We cannot stop the conversations – they must continue.

 

 

During Black History Month 2022, uLethbridge is focusing on two of the overarching principles from the Scarborough Charter, defined as:

 

BLACK FLOURISHING: Universities and colleges are central to enabling the just, fulsome realization of human potential and thriving. They play a pivotal role in redressing anti-Black racism by removing structural barriers to equity, inclusion and social justice, with full recognition of our intersectional identities, while advancing the innovative research, critical thinking and engaged dissemination of knowledge that foster substantive equality, human dignity, and sustainability.

INCLUSIVE BLACK EXCELLENCE: Inclusive excellence embodies the recognition that not only is post-secondary education enriched by equity, diversity and inclusion; equitable inclusion is critical to excellence. Excellence encompasses the ability of universities and colleges to educate and to innovate; to be alive to complexity and proactive in the face of crisis; to foster fundamental questioning through rigorous, respectful engagements across difference; and to enable societal transformation.

 

 

 

Becoming an ally is a lifelong process, primarily a learning process! The first step we can take is to be curious and inform ourselves about the realities faced by Black Canadians and their communities, as well as their contributions to Canada. An ally does not remain silent when witnessing racism, discrimination, or oppression. As allies, we can also act in solidarity with individuals, groups and organizations actively engaged in anti-racism and anti-discrimination work, through volunteer work, donations or simply attending their events or helping propagate their message.

 

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