Raymond Brooks, Biz-Tech Reporter
Painting and “mocktails” are how The Black Academic Success and Engagement (The BASE) program welcomed spring to Humber North and Lakeshore.
The Paint and Sip event was a free painting class thats includes instruction, socialization and light beverages for artists of all skill levels. The recent lesson was taught by art instructor Cassandra Watts to guide participants to recreate one of her paintings while experimenting with their own ideas.
She said the first painting was of a king and queen to represent diversity and equality. The second was a painting of a lion.
“Creativity comes and goes, but it’s a traveling creativity that people explore through painting,” Watts said while discussing her inspirations.
The event is usually held every year at Humber College during Black History Month, but two snowstorms pushed the event into March.
The event was arranged by two students. The Lakeshore event was Opal Nelson, while the North event was Michallia Marks, The BASE special projects and events assistant.
“Painting personally for me is one of my favourite activities because I’m not an experienced painter,” Marks said. “As the events assistant I wanted to bring something new to The BASE that we’ve never done before, a ‘de-stresser’ painting event where folks could attend and enjoy an atmosphere with music, food and great company.”
The BASE Program is a student group that seeks to provide community for students who identify as Black, African and Caribbean. The group also provides resources and support to encourage successes for the Humber College community. They are one of two equity spaces on campus, the other being the LGBTQ+ Resource Centre.
“The event is an extension of the theme we had during black history month which was honoring our past and embracing in our future,” said Yamikani Msosa, the student diversity and inclusion initiatives coordinator.
“We wanted to provide students a space to explore art, but using an African-Caribbean lens and the themes and pictures reflect that. As a program that focuses on black students engagement, that’s part of student success,” Msosa said.
“Here at Humber, we want to be able to provide opportunities for students to meet other students, to connect, as well as having something social to do,” she said. “The event is really about building community, discovering what it means to celebrate ourselves, and to talk about equity, diversity and inclusion from a positive strength-based perspective.”
The BASE first started as the bridge program as part of the School of Community and Social Services.
Msosa said the program was once known as the Bridge, an eight-week course that students could take to help with developing soft skills, such as retention issues, asking professors for help or using college resources.
“We have three pillars: academic success, social interactions, and a supportive community,” she said.
For academic success The BASE provide tutors, while for support, it partners with different academic schools to provide different workshops like stress management, Msosa said.
For the social interactions The BASE celebrates events like Black History Month, mental health awareness, women’s history month and sexual assault awareness month, she said.
“We really want to show that equity diversity and inclusion is something that affects different social locations and being able to connect. Students coming together creating events like this for community aspect,” Msosa said.
She cited members of The BASE volunteered with Peel Region women’s abuse council volunteering for its International Women’s Day event.
“These events are provoking discussions and bold issues that affect us as the black community while offering a place to really bond together during social events,” she said.
Msosa said while the focus is on Black, African and Caribbean students, students from all backgrounds attend its events.
“It was beautiful to see such a such a mosaic of students of all ethnic backgrounds asking questions at our last professional panel,” she said.