A fashion show was one of the highlights of the evening

Wednesday 28 February 2024

YMCA of the National Capital Region Black History Month Celebration

by Obasola Bamigbola, Editorial Associate

In a celebration that resonated with the vibrant spirit of diversity and unity, the YMCA of the National Capital Region hosted an inspiring Black History Month event, bringing together a mosaic of voices, stories, and expressions that highlighted the richness of Black culture.

YMCA President Trevor McAlmont welcomes the guests

The evening commenced with a warm welcome from Trevor McAlmont, the President and CEO of the YMCA, who set the tone for an evening dedicated to reflection, appreciation, and celebration.

Nigerian traditional talking drum signals the beginning of the fashion show

One of the highlights of the event was the African-themed fashion show, “Richness in Black Culture,” presented by Olayinka Elutilo. The runway came alive with a kaleidoscope of colours and patterns as children and adults showcased meticulously crafted designs using African fabrics. The fusion of tradition and modernity in the clothing designs reflected a celebration of heritage and identity.

Meseret Haileyesus Executive Director of CCFWE speaks about her organization

Meseret Haileyesus, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Women’s Empowerment (CCFWE), shared her compelling journey from Ethiopia to Canada. Her poignant narrative underscored the challenges faced by Black women immigrants and emphasized the pivotal role organizations like CCFWE play in empowering and supporting them.

The keynote address by John Adeyefa added a deeply personal touch to the evening. Adeyefa, expressing joy at being back ‘home’ at YMCA Ottawa, delved into the origins of the African Canadian Association within the YMCA. He shed light on the association’s efforts, including the establishment of the African Canadian radio, to unite and amplify the voices of Africans in Canada.

Artherapy Northwest founder Ayoola Adeyanju, introduces his art exhibition

Ayoola Adeyanju, Founder of Artheraphy Northwest, curated an art exhibition that transcended traditional boundaries. His digital therapy, “Extending the Frontiers of Diasporan Contribution to Mental Wellbeing through Art,” showcased the powerful intersection of art and mental health, underscoring the importance of creative expression as a means of healing.

The cinematic component of the evening unfolded with the screening of the short film “More Than Hair” by Fitch Jean. The film provided a nuanced exploration of identity and self-expression within the context of black hair, prompting thoughtful questions and engaging discussions during the subsequent Q&A session.

Director Fitch Jean introduces his film: “More than Hair”

The event culminated with a resonant message from Godwin Ifedi, a board member of Black History Month Ottawa and the editor of Black Ottawa Scene Magazine. His closing remarks encapsulated the essence of the celebration, emphasizing the significance of acknowledging, preserving, and perpetuating black history beyond the confines of a designated month.

Godwin Ifedi Editor of Black Ottawa Scene and Black History Ottawa Board member speaks about his various projects

In summary, the YMCA of the National Capital Region’s Black History Month Celebration was a testament to the power of community, culture, and shared narratives. Through fashion, art, film, and impassioned speeches, the event succeeded in fostering a sense of belonging, understanding, and pride in the diverse tapestry of Black experiences.

Obasola Bamigbola

Veteran photographer and reporter Obasola Bamigbnola relocated to Canada in 2023 and now calls Ottawa home.