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Faculty of Social Work Anti-Black Racism Task Force hosts events for Black History Month

By Julieanne Acosta, February 8 2022—

Across Canada, February is celebrated by advocacy and festivities that honour Black Canadians for Black History Month. The Government of Alberta officially proclaimed this month as Black History Month in January 2017 to not only acknowledge, but to thank the contributions that Black individuals have made to Alberta. 

In honour of this month, the University of Calgary has a line-up of online events with a variety of topics hosted through faculties and departments for the U of C community. 

The Gauntlet had the opportunity to talk with the chair of the Anti-Black Racism Task Force and assistant professor in the U of C’s Faculty of Social Work, Dr. Patrina Duhaney, about the events coming up and the importance of this month to the U of C community. 

The Faculty of Social Work Anti-Black Racism Task Force will be hosting four live online events, along with an online art gallery and a social media competition.  

The first event will discuss questions such as: Can Black people resist and be resilient at the same time? 

The event will feature Hawa Y. Mire who specialises in anti-Black racism. This event will run from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. MST on Feb. 10. 

“We have a packed program [at this event] with different individuals. We will certainly have a gospel choir singing, The Aeolians, spoken word artists, Greg and Nalia Birkett, and a singer from the U of C, Breann Coutain,” said Duhaney.   

Following this, on Feb. 16 there will be a poetic performance on Black cultural awareness and literacy by Wakefield Brewster who is a professional poet and spoken word artist. This event will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m MST. 

On Feb. 17, heARTbase will be speaking on the historical context of Black popular culture and music, and how the genre of Hip Hop can be used as a form of healing. The event is titled “The Cypher: Hip Hop as a Method, A Process of Critical Healing Through Art, Politics, and Culture” and will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. MST. 

“[heARTbase] are a group of practitioners from Toronto and they are talking about non-traditional anti-colonial political methods of critical healing and how that is reflected through Hip-Hop,” said Duhaney. 

The final live event is a Cross-Faculty Student Panel on March 2 where Black students across the U of C campus will discuss issues from their own faculty perspective from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. MST. 

All live events will be accessible to anyone, online and free of charge. Aside from live events, Duhaney promoted the Faculty of Social Work Black History Month Virtual Art Gallery and social media contest. 

“We are currently seeking submissions from any Black individual from across Alberta in different genres of art. Submissions will be considered for one of the three prizes of $250 , $350 and $450,” said Duhaney. “We also have a social media feed through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where each day we showcase a Black changemaker who played a pivotal role in advancing Black issues, perspectives and experiences and there is a weekly contest. At the end of the week, we will give a $25 dollar gift certificate to a local Black business by participating in sharing the post and answering three simple questions to make it fun and interactive.” 

Three art pieces will be selected and displayed across Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge and winners will be determined by a panel of students, staff and faculty members. The deadline for submissions will be on March 1. The submission form can be found on the U of C website.

Duhaney ended by explaining why Black History Month is important in acknowledging Black struggles.

“I think we have such an amazing lineup and we’re saying celebrating Black history is relevant across Canada and it’s something we take pride in at the U of C. With everything that has happened with the Black Lives Matter movement and the commitments the university made, it is really important that we don’t just look at this as just a moment where people were protesting over a period of time, but a wake-up call for us to recognize the challenges from oppression to societal barriers that Black people have experienced.” said Duhaney.

“It’s important for all of us to make ourselves present and available to educate ourselves because it is never the responsibility of a Black individual to educate us. We all have a responsibility to show up and present and engage in the rich knowledge. My desire is that people show up for these events and play a clear role in working towards systemic change where we will be able to work towards eradicating anti-Black racism.” 

Find and register for Black History Month events online under the Faculty of Social Work. Find and register for Black History Month events online under the Faculty of Arts. A summary of all these events can be found on the U of C website

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