Each February, YMCAs across Canada proudly celebrate Black History Month by recognizing the Black community for their diverse culture, rich heritage, and impactful accomplishments. This includes acknowledging and celebrating Black YMCA staff and volunteers, and Black community members that participate in Y programming.
In addition to celebration, Black History Month is an important time to learn, unpack, and take action to dismantle the anti-Black racism that pervades all aspects of Canadian society at interpersonal, institutional, and systemic levels. This year the Government of Canada announced that the theme for Black History Month 2022 is February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day. Equally important, is marking the years 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD).
We believe that in order to effectively combat anti-Blackness, we must engage in lifelong learning. YMCA Canada, in collaboration with the 39 YMCA Member Associations in Canada, aims to support and enable this work by engaging in ongoing education, dialogue, and initiatives that drive change.
We encourage everyone to learn about our local Black history and how it is being acknowledged, celebrated, and remembered, and take time to learn from Black community members. Below is a list of local resources to get started:
- Learn about Owen Sound’s Black History Cairn: https://www.owensoundtourism.ca/en/arts-and-culture/Black-History-Cairn.aspx
- Visit the Grey Roots website to learn about Grey County’s Black history: https://greyroots.com/story/black-history-grey-county
- Follow the Emancipation Festival Facebook page for details on their events and actions: https://www.facebook.com/OwenSoundEmancipationFestival/ or visit their website: https://www.emancipation.ca/
- Learn more about our YMCA’s recent Peace Medal recipient, Aly Boltman and the Potter’s Field Monument Volunteer Steering Committee, for their work in creating a memorial that reflects on the historic connections of the Underground Railroad (UGRR) to Owen Sound. Watch our Peace Medal ceremony to hear Aly’s passionate speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2xFyFW48iA