By Sophie Goodarzi, U of T student, and Natasja VanderBerg, Family Care Office
February is Black History Month. Black History Month will be celebrated at the University of Toronto and across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Take the time to learn about and celebrate the heritage, traditions, and cultures of Black Canadians with your family!
This list is by no means exhaustive. Many Black History Month events are taking place throughout February. We encourage you to learn, with your families, about the history of Black communities wherever you live and celebrate Black resilience, excellence and cultural contributions.
Freedom School – Toronto led a workshop called “How to Talk to Your Kids about Anti-Black Racism” for U of T families with the Family Care Office on January 18. The workshop leaders, LeRoi Newbold, Nauoda Robinson, and Naomi Bain, provided invaluable resources for talking to kids about racism. Several books were mentioned (as well as activities – see Activities for Families below), including:
Books for Kids
I like myself, Karen Beaumont
Christopher Changes His Name, Itah Sadu
Antiracist Baby, Ibram X Kendi
The Proudest Blue: a story of hijab and family, Ibtihaj Muhammad (available at the FCO library)
Books for Youth
Monster, Walter Dean Myers
Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi
Yummi: the last days of a Southside shorty, Greg Neri
Slay, Brittney Morris
Anger is a Gift, Mark Oshiro
Elijah of Buxton, Christopher Paul Curtis
We Rise, We Resist, We Raise our Voices, Cheryl Willis Hudson and Wade Hudson, Eds
The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
Looking for more book recommendations? A Different Booklist is located not too far from the St. George campus, at Bathurst and Bloor. A Different Booklist is a Canadian, independent, multicultural bookstore specializing in books from the African Caribbean Diaspora and the Global South. #readdifferently
The Toronto Public Library puts together book lists for family members of various ages.
- Black History 2023 – Adult Reading List
- Black History 2023 – Teen Reading List
- Black History 2023 – Children’s Reading List
- Black Lives Matter: A Booklist
- Black Lives Matter: Books for Kids
- Black Canadian Authors
Events across the GTA
The Toronto Public Library – Check out the Toronto Public Library for educational and free activities. There’s always engaging child, teen, and family programming going on. This Black History Month, attend the libraries’ musical events, storytelling, movie events, and more to celebrate Black history and culture!
Harbourfront Centre – KUUMBA, Toronto’s largest Black Futures Month celebration, continues supporting Black artists and Black culture. About KUUMBA: “Dance, music, workshops and literary events highlight contemporary artists and thought leaders from the Afro-diaspora in Canada.”
City of Toronto – The City of Toronto compiles a list of the many BHM events in the GTA this year.
City of Brampton – Events in Brampton include a Black Makers Market on February 1 and a panel on Race and Education – the Black Experience on Friday, February 10.
University of Toronto – The Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office has a calendar with Black History events happening across U of T’s campuses.
Activities for Families
Visit the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society & Black Mecca Museum in Chatham-Kent to learn about Chatham-Kent’s Black community from 1780s to present day. During the month of February, the Museum is leading guided tours on Fridays 9 am – 2 pm.
John Freeman Walls Historical Site and Underground Railroad Museum and Village is open in the summer months, and by appointment throughout the other seasons. Located beyond Chatham, near Windsor Ontario.
Black Artists’ Networks In Dialogue is (temporarily) located at 789 Adelaide St. W. “Black Artists’ Networks in Dialogue (BAND) is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting, documenting and showcasing the artistic and cultural contributions of Black artists and cultural workers in Canada and internationally.”
Black history shouldn’t only be celebrated in February. Check out UofT’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (IDERD) Campaign site to see events in March 2023.
For those of us who are not Black, while reading and educating ourselves is a critical first step, allyship is more than reading and education and talking to our children about racism. The January 18th workshop concluded with a call to action:
“Allyship is active. It means constantly and intentionally intervening in oppressive structures. What allied actions do you or can you do with your children? What allied actions do you or can you encourage them to do on their own?”