February is Black History Month, and Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) schools are focusing on Black history and culture, and the significant contributions that Black Canadians have made to the country. Classroom activities and school-wide events have been taking place the entire month, and some schools contributed to a collaborative art project.
Vankleek Hill Collegiate Institute contributed to a district-wide, spoken word poetry video to promote historical black role models and the message of coming together to “educate to blast out hate.” The video is posted on the UCDSB Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=480522460414615
Russell Public School has decorated its hallways with student artwork, the morning announcements have featured excerpts from the book Trailblazers: The Black Pioneers Who Have Shaped Canada, and the school has planned a virtual field-trip to Ripley’s Aquarium for their ‘Making Waves: Celebrating Black Music and the history of Canadian Jazz’ event.
“Black History Month is an excellent opportunity to celebrate and learn about the extraordinary contributions of Black Canadians in our communities and around the world,” said Dan McRae, UCDSB principal of equity and inclusion. “Historically, the contributions of Black authors, poets, politicians, educators, and artists have not been represented and valued as much as their peers, which is a form of systemic racism.
“Our schools are committed to working with our students, staff, families and communities to ensure that the contributions of Black people are celebrated and valued in our schools and classrooms both during Black History Month and throughout the school year. I’m very proud of our schools for the work that is happening, and of our communities that continue to expect us to do better. We know better, and we are now, more than ever, committing to doing better.”
The school board has also made the UCDSB Virtual Learning Commons (VLC) available staff, students, and families. It has a section dedicated to e-books, videos, websites, and classroom resources that brings Black culture and history to the fore and is widely used within UCDSB schools.