St. Thomas University will host its first Black History Month panel on Feb. 8 at 6 p.m in Kinsella Auditorium. The event will discuss what it’s like to be black in Canada and the challenges black people still face in the country.
Last year little was done to acknowledge Black History Month. Associate vice-president communications Jeffrey Carleton said the Human Rights department did screen a documentary, but little on campus was done besides that.
“We had a student who was critical about that to The Aquinian and, when we next met with him, we sort of put a challenge to him,” he said.
“If he wanted to work with us to do something for Black History Month, let’s touch base in September and we will do something. And he did.”
That student is Husoni Raymond. Raymond organized, fundraised and worked with STU’s director of marketing on promoting the event.
Raymond is a second-year criminology and political science major from Kingston, Jamaica. When asked about why he decided to do something about Black History Month, Raymond said he was motivated by the criticism over him expressing his disappointment last year.
“People asked why I didn’t do anything, so I decided to take matters with my own hands and make this happen,” he said.
Raymond is happy the university is providing a space for this event to happen. He’s also grateful for financial support from STU.
“It’s good to see that St. Thomas is actually willing to support and recognize the challenges people of African ancestry face here in Canada,” he said.
Three large posters highlighting the contributions of several African-Canadians are also on display in James Dunn Hall.
The Atlantic Human Rights Centre received $3,300 in funding from various departments within the university and $2,500 from STUSU to spend on Black History Month. Leftover money from the budget will be used by the AHRC to fund future initiatives.
“We were able to get financial support from STUSU and I’m glad to see the recognition in this aspect as well, since we hope to use the budget for upcoming Black History Month events.”
The panel will feature Alexa Joy Potashnik, host of Raw Colours and founder of Black Space Winnipeg; Mary Louise McCarthy, former president of the New Brunswick Black History Society; Pascale Diverius, journalist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto; and fourth-year criminology student William Leek.
Leek thinks the panel will shine a light for faculty and students on the issues black communities face.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to attempt to enlighten people of the challenges we face,” Leek said.
Raymond hopes people can engage with the challenges they face.
“I hope the people who watch this panel get the knowledge they’re able to get and pass it on to their friends and family and understand how it feels like to be black in Canada.”