By: Tatyanna Watts-Burke and Adewunmi Agunloye
Hall B of the Wellesley Community Center Toronto was agog on Saturday 25, February 2023 as The Corner in partnership with 519, Support Enhances Access Service Center (Sease), Dixon Hall, and The Centre for Advancing the Interests of Black People and Regent Park TV organized an event in celebration of the year 2023 Black History Month.
This year’s program with the theme Boundless Healing, Health, Wellness, and Empowerment attracted over 70 participants drawn from the residents of St. James Town and its environs. The Corner has always been a place for diversity, community and well-being.
Black History Month is held in Canada every February to celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Black Canadians and their communities who, throughout history, have done so much to make Canada a culturally diverse, compassionate, and prosperous country.
In 1979 Toronto became Canada’s first municipality to proclaim February as Black History month. This was all started by the efforts of Dr. Daniel G. Hill and Wilson O. Brooks, with the rest of Canada following close behind.
As part of the event is a workshop on anti -racism was presented by the duo of Kiaunna and Zora from the Center for Advancing the Interest of Black People with Toronto Community Housing. Also, a Seven Minutes Videos Short Documentary on Black Wellness was presented by Fred from Regent Park TV; and, Iffy from Dixon Hall gave a talk on Harm Reduction Saving Lives while harm reduction kites were given out to the participants.
During the open mic conversation, Jena the case management worker from The Corner facilitated a conversation about challenges in accessing the health system and addressing community needs related to health and wellness.
The climax of the event was the speech given by the City Councilor representing the St. James Town Community Chris Moise. In his speech, Moise congratulated the organizers of the event and went down memory lane about how his determination and consistency assisted him to become what he is today. He encouraged the gathering that with determination and hard work, success can be achieved.
To spice up the event, two performances, a guitarist singer from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and drummers from Zimbabwe and Trinidad entertained the participants with their melodious songs and drums.
Four Black Leaders of Wellness nominated by the community members were presented with gifts of appreciation and recognized at The Corner’s main celebration.
Before the event on Saturday 25th February, The Corner through the Green Café dedicated the month of February to the Black History Month celebration by preparing cultural Black community food worldwide. These included countries from north and east african countries, jamaica, trinidad, and south africa. RPTV News reported about Green Café through February in celebrating Black History Month.
The 2SLGBTQ+ health team hosted three Black queer movie nights, sharing with the community stories of gay, Black love and empowerment from around the world. Starting the event was The Watermelon Woman, a movie about a lesbian African American woman director as she navigates life and love. This was followed by the Kenyan movie Rafiki about two star-crossed lovers. Ending the series we watched Saturday Church about a young gay black man as he learns acceptance and strength in the face of adversity.
Also, posts about the Black History month in Canada and the Black personalities who have contributed positively to the actualization and recognition of the Black communities in Canada were promoted on the St. James Town Community Corner Social Media Platforms. This is to showcase the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians.
Some of the participants expressed their happiness and thanked The Corner for organizing the event.