Capacity crowd at Black History Month launch and opening ceremony

Saturday 28 January

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sends special Black History Month greetings

 

MP Catherine McKenna, centre, MPP Yasir Naqvi, right with Eldon Holder Jr and members of Young Leaders' Advisory Council

MP Catherine McKenna, centre, MPP Yasir Naqvi, right with Eldon Holder Jr and members of Young Leaders’ Advisory Council

It was standing room only at the Library and Archives Canada on Saturday  as the people of Ottawa witnessed the launch of the 2017 Black History month. The theme for 2017 is:  “Our Canadian Story: The Road to 150 and Beyond”, to honour the ingenuity of our early Black ancestors, acknowledge the resilience of our trailblazing Black leaders both past and present, and highlight the diversity of our allies throughout history.  Hosts Black History Ottawa outdid themselves as they organised the most inspiring celebration of Canada’s annual celebration of the contribution of people of African descent to the country’s diverse mosaic. Poetry recitals by Zakarayah Foyn and Maya Bassude; gospel music by the Academy choir; “negro spirituals” by soloist Michael Hanna; a remarkable Black history slide show by the amazing Lisa Gaye-Price,  and an inspirational keynote speech by Ottawa’s very own orator extraordinaire, Rev. Anthony Bailey, all served up made for a most memorable evening.

Mayor Jim Watson reads the Black History Month proclamation, with BHO Acting President June Girvan

Mayor Jim Watson reads the Black History Month proclamation, with BHO Acting President June Girvan

Other highlights of the afternoon were the message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau read by MP and Minister of the Environment, Catherine MacKenna.  A special message from Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, read by Attorney-General and MPP Yasir Naqvi, included  an announcement of a grant of $34,989 to Black History Ottawa to organise a  youth-based conference for Canada’s diverse populations including indigenous people. This project will assist Black History Ottawa and its partner, the Young Leaders Advisory Council, to host a  “Smart Start Youth Summit” that will engage a diversity of 200 youth and community change-makers in interactive, collaborative and engaging discussions over a two-day period.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi reads message from Premier Kathleen Wynne

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi reads message from Premier Kathleen Wynne

Mayor Jim Watson was there too to read the City of Ottawa’s proclamation of February as the 2017 Black History Month. Other dignitaries in attendance were the Ottawa Chief of Police Charles Bordeleau; RBC Royal Bank’s Christopher Mayena-Panda, who presented cheques for $500 each to two Ottawa-based winners of the bank’s 2017 Black History Month essay competition; Canada Post’s Elizabeth Wong who was there for the unveiling of the 2017 Black History Month commemorative stamp, and Nepean MP Chandra Arya.

Keynote speaker Rev Anthony Bailey

Keynote speaker Rev Anthony Bailey

Black History Ottawa also presented their annual Community Builder awards to the following:

Justice for Abdirahman Coalition; Bishop Jacob Afolabi; Amanda Ngwafusi; Katrice Bent and Crystal-Lee Savage. The Black History Ottawa President’s award went to renowned community activist Daniel Stringer, while the John Dennison award went to historian Thomas Barber.

One major surprise of the afternoon was the United Way Ottawa Community Builder award given to keynote speaker Rev Anthony Bailey.

All photographs copyright Black Ottawa Scene

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