Melanie Valente-Leite, News Reporter
Debbie Douglas and the African Drumming Collective launched Black History Month with a bang of a drum and led the ceremony with a traditional dance.
“I enjoy seeing everybody enjoy themselves,” said Gailene Prime-Ramsay, a dancer on the African Drumming Collective. “It makes me feel like they understand our culture, that they’re a part of us and that we are accepted.”
They started the ceremony at the IGNITE Centre on Feb. 3 by leading everyone to join and sing the Canadian national anthem and the Black Anthem.
Ramsay and Claudine Thomas, fellow dance partners in the African Drumming Collective, then led the audience to participate in an African dance. At the same time, they were dancing along to the beat of djembe drums.
We’re trying to ensure that we were doing something that spoke to both staff and students, and brought some black African culture into space”Adam Benn – Manager, Centre for Human Rights
While different speakers shared a speech, videos of Black Canadian legends including civil rights activist Viola Desmond, the first black Victoria Cross recipient William Hall and journalist, and activist Carrie Best played on a monitor above.
Adam Benn, manager at the Centre for Human Rights, shared his experience in coordinating the ceremony with his colleagues.
“We’re trying to ensure that we were doing something that spoke to both staff and students, and brought some black African culture into space,” Benn said.
While hosting the ceremony, Benn and his team explained the importance of representing the black community at school and show unity with and respect for those who endured and still endure oppression due to the colour of their skin.
“I think the message around Black History not being talked about just in February, but being an everyday sort of thing resounded with me,” Benn said. “Hopefully, that’s something that people are taking as they go forward in life.”
Sacha Ally, one of the ceremony’s event coordinators, hopes to host this event annually so different groups of people can attend and learn more about the history behind achieving Black excellence.