February 1st, 2022
Yes, Black Brilliance Month!
When it comes to tackling systemic anti-Black racism in education, every organization must set a goal. At the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), the goal is creating learning environments where African, Caribbean, and Black identifying (ACBI) staff and students are supported in being unapologetically Black. This means creating an environment where ACBI students and staff see their brilliance highlighted, represented and celebrated. This is accomplished by learning the history, highlighting the present and building for the future.
The Government of Canada’s theme for Black History Month 2022 is February and Forever: Black History today and every day. This is a call to action and a reminder that work must continue beyond the month of February. It is also a call to honesty.
In the WRDSB, we know we have work to do, to better provide a community and educational experience that safeguards Black brilliance. Part of this is acknowledging the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Black community. In addition, this February’s celebration at the WRDSB is informed by what we learned at the monthly Black Brilliance conferences last year.
Black Brilliance Month Events in the WRDSB
We’ve planned a series of events for students and staff to highlight Black Brilliance throughout the month of February, and continue to develop events and community partnerships to recognise Black Brilliance 365 days of the year.
Black Brilliance Month Keynote with Dr. Andrew Campbell
This is the focus of our first Black Brilliance Month Keynote event on February 1 where staff have been invited to hear from Dr. Andrew Campbell, a graduate of the University of Toronto, with a PhD. in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Diversity and an Ontario Certified Teacher (OCT). His words and guidance will help to provide the foundation for honouring Black Brilliance in our schools every day of the year.
Students who are interested in participating in Black Brilliance Month events should contact their Black Student Union or Association staff coordinator. If your school does not have a BSU/A, please contact a staff member to support you in this request.
Black Artist-In-Residence Antonio Michael Downing
We are also launching the Black Artist-In-Residence program. This program will take place during the month of April. ACBi students will attend workshops with the artist-in-residence and have access to one-on-one support towards the completion of a voluntary artistic project of their choosing.
Our first Artist-in-Residence is also a WRDSB graduate. Antonio Michael Downing is a musician, author and public speaker. At the core of his artistic practice lies his relationship with storytelling thus this residency will focus on storytelling in either medium. In reflecting on Black Brilliance Antonio Michael says, “Black Brilliance means dreaming dreams that are unlimited by colonial legacies and daring to make them a reality”. He looks forward to learning how WRDSB students are writing their own stories and providing them with tools to expand their horizons.
Looking for a way to learn more or get involved? Check out the following community events:
- 85 Queen: An Evening with Lawrence Hill | The Congress of Black Women, Waterloo Region and Kitchener Public Library
- A History of Motown | Waterloo Public Library
- Anansi and Di Snowstorm | Waterloo Public Library
- Black Culture Celebration 2022 | Bring on the Sunshine
- Black History Month Events | Rhythm & Blues Cambridge