UMSU and other student groups will be hosting events throughout the month of February for Black History Month.
UMSU vice-president student life Tracy Karuhogo highlighted the union’s upcoming event titled the Cosmopolitan, a culture appreciation day that will take place in University Centre on Feb. 9 and will be free to attend.
The event will host different student groups and performers to showcase the many cultures at the U of M, and will feature a fashion show, traditional dancers, free snacks from a variety of cultures and a photo booth.
Karuhogo said that UMSU will also be collaborating with Black History Manitoba to organize a youth debate and research challenge at the Afro-Caribbean Association of Manitoba, 259 Watt Street, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 18.
Additionally, the Black Student Empowerment Society will be hosting its Black Café networking event on Feb. 25 at TableSpace co., 196 Osborne Street. The event will run from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., during which time Black students will be able to meet and engage in discussion with Black professionals in different career paths.
The UM Black Alliance will be hosting an online panel over Zoom on Feb. 15 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event, titled “We signed the Scarborough Charter — now what?” will feature guest speakers from multiple Canadian universities.
Karuhogo believes that Black History Month events will benefit Black students on campus by highlighting what it means to be a Black person in Canadian society and at the U of M.
“I feel when students come together, whether they are Black or not Black, and they come together in a space whereby they are respecting and working together it actually cuts down on any barriers,” Karuhogo said.
“They are given an opportunity to respect those who are Black and to see life from their point of view.”
Karuhogo said that in addition to remembering the history of Black people in Canada, Black History Month is an important reminder of the responsibility society has to dismantle systemic racism and to ensure that Black people are given equal opportunities.
She added that, as a Black woman who immigrated to Canada, she feels that Black History Month is an important way to recognize the intersectionality of the barriers that she and other Black people may face, and that the month motivates her to try to uplift others in the community.
Karuhogo said that when she thinks of Black history, she asks, “what can I do, how can I take up space and be unapologetically myself, and how can I inspire other Black women to know that they can be in positions of power, or to know that their voice matters?”
Karuhogo believes that Black history should not only be recognized in February, but in all months of the year.
“I think all communities and all individuals should take time and look into themselves and see how they can appreciate the Black community at large,” she said.
Olivia Onyemaenu, vice-president advocacy for the Black Students Union, explained the significance that Black History Month holds for her.
“Black history for me is the observance, recognition and honour of the contributions and achievements of the country’s Black population and their role in society,” she said via email.
She said that the month also encourages Black people who are immigrants to Canada to embrace
their cultures and identities.
Onyemaenu emphasized that Black history is also an internationally important subject.
“Black history teaches us about the positive contributions and accomplishments that Black people have made all over the world, including Canada,” she said.