I hope that this season of new beginnings, renewal, growth, and hope brings sunshine, warmth, and good health to you and your loved ones. We are one year into the major changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in and I hope that you continue to be healthy and safe.
The OBHS continues to operate virtually in adherence to the provincial stay-at-home orders. This includes office operations, board meeting, and events. Our 33rd Annual Black History Month Kick-Off was a virtual event this year and was a resounding success. Under our theme is History: Who We Are!, we recognized organizations and individuals in the community who have dedicated resources and time to harness support for the Black community during the COVID-19 pandemic and honoured front line workers who have lost their lives. We featured the personal histories of four board members that represent different journeys and experiences in the African Diaspora, a virtual tour of the Amherstburg Freedom Museum, and unveiled two commemorative collection pieces, the 2021 Canada Post Black History Month Stamp and a Royal Canadian Mint coin that recognizes Black history. A number of musical performances were great additions to the programme.
We held our first Black History Month speaker’s series that included engaging, informative conversations with film producer Cheryl Foggo and author Lawrence Hill, a Black heritage site panel with the Buxton Museum, Guelph Black Heritage Society, Amherstburg Freedom Museum, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site, and a delightful storytelling circle with Sandra Whiting, Kesha Charles, and Yolanda Marshall. We look forward to making this welcomed addition a regular part of our programming.
I am pleased to share that the bill to have Emancipation Day recognized, Bill M-36, received unanimous consent on March 24th. August 1st will be designated as Emancipation Day across the country. The OBHS is privileged to have played a role alongside many organizations and individuals who have advocated to have this occasion recognized. Look out for more information on the first national commemoration of Emancipation Day that takes place this summer as well as the annual OBHS Emancipation Day observance that will be held on August 1st!
I would like to take the time to express my appreciation for the continuous support of and interest in the OBHS – from attending our events, engaging on social media, being committed members, and generously donating to our organization – we are truly grateful.
Natasha Henry, OBHS President