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February recognizes African-Canadians

By Sharon Kallaste

BELLEVILLE, Ont. (07/02/2012) People walk past the Black History Month display in the Loyalist College library. The display will be up for the month of February, and will be updated several times through the month. Photo by Dan Pearce

February is Black History Month. It’s a time to reflect, and recognize the importance of African-Canadians, their development, accomplishments and contributions, to the culturally diverse Canadian society spanning through five centuries.

No events or special activities have been scheduled in Belleville. Although in the past, Belleville Public Library has recognized Black History Month with book displays this year their emphasis is on heart health month.

A display in the Loyalist’s Parrott Library was prepared over the weekend and be on view from Feb. 6 – 26.

“We do up displays for various significant declarations. We have included a broad scope of black history published works from the days of the Underground Railroad, to more current books of heritage interest and included short summaries of key historical facts for quick reading,” said library technician, Lynn McCraken.

“We don’t receive any instructions from the college administration regarding Black History Month. However, we are very open to our international students if they would like something done,” said Jodie Russett, the international centre’s co-ordinator.

Various students expressing an interest in bringing awareness to cultural events and special declarations have approached the International Centre in past years. The international centre provides advice, in the area of advocacy, social and academic services.

“We do whatever we can to assist any students who are dedicated and committed to these special occasions, to bring awareness to all students of the college,” said Russett.

“To me, Black History Month represents the beginning of the social justice movement. While it is important to have a designated time to celebrate, we must never lose touch – taking every opportunity to recognize our history and call it out

when we see it,” said Catherine O’Rourke, director of student services.

Rosemary Sadlier, president of the Ontario Black History Society, was instrumental in attaining the month of February as Black History Month, with national declaration activation in December 1995.

An excerpt from Sadlier’s address posted on the OBHS website reiterates how important history is to students.

“African Canadian students need to feel affirmed; need to be aware of the contributions made by other blacks in Canada; need to have role models; need to understand the social forces which have shaped and influenced their community and their identities as a means of feeling connec

ted to the education experience and their life experience in various regions in Canada,” wrote Sadlier.

The portrait history of special achievers lines Loyalist’s hallways.