BY: KATHY MCDONALD
As many schools get excited to celebrate Black History month and bulletin boards, display cases and morning announcements are extolling the contributions of Black people to the Canadian society I can’t help but wonder why only one month? I am Peel Proud that the Peel District School Board, PDSB is taking bold steps to change this as we embark on embedding Black History into the curriculum. Last weekend PAMA, Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives had its official opening for Black History Month and there were a lot of activities geared towards Black Canadian History and to my surprise the exhibits will not be taken down on February the 28th. Instead they will be housed in the museum until September 4th 2017. I thoroughly enjoyed the Black Enslavement in Upper Canada exhibition as well as the Black Community in Peel in the Late 19th century exhibition. It was an eye opener and it was remarkable that in 2017 there are still Canadians that are astounded by the fact that slavery is part of our Canadian history. The highlight of the day was listening up close and personal to the two time Juno award winning Liberty Silver as she performed a myriad of songs. Let me state for the record that to hear such a talented Canadian vocalist perform the Black national anthem is an experience like no other. You would be inspired, you would be rejuvenated and you would definitely “Lift every voice and sing”.
There is a lot of work to be done in the education realm and such myths need to be blown apart. It still baffles me when I hear Canadians speak about the United States of America with such disdain and act so righteous as if to say we don’t have racism, systemic biases or discrimination in Canada. On Friday the 3rd of February The United Way Peel Region Black Advisory Council had a networking breakfast. During this event there was a panel discussion where the state of affairs of the Black community in Peel was examined. The roots, the commitment and the legacies of the Black community in Peel were discoursed. The panelist consisted of four colorful and spirited individuals that offered a surplus of solutions and varying insight to the issues facing our community. They were: Kike Ojo a child welfare aficionado who currently works as the project Manager for the “One Vision One Voice”: Changing the Child Welfare System for African-Canadian Families Project with the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies: Dr. Gayle Solomon Henry an author and a Superintendent of Education with the PDSB: Ohenewa Akuffo an Olympian and motivational speaker and Lance Constantine author and founder of Speaker University.
This year the PDSB is hosting its annual Parent Conference on April 1st 2017. This is no prank so hurry up and register as the workshops fill up fast. Simply go to www.peelschools.org/parents/conference to register online. The keynote speaker will be Matthew Oldridge. Mr. Oldridge is a mathematics resource teacher who will share his expertise in making math less intimidating for students and parents. He will help parents understand how teachers teach math today for the twenty first century learner and help parents decode their children’s mathematical thinking. There are several workshops that run throughout the day. These workshops cover anything from numeracy, literacy, science, special education to the various life skills that will help your child succeed in school. This conference is for all parents; the expert, the novice and anything in between. You will not be judged . On the contrary you will leave with so many valuable tools, trade secrets and strategies that will enhance your ability to help your child be the best that they can be. The IEP, Individual Education Plan, will be demystified and all the myths surrounding it will be dispelled. The EQAO assessment, critical thinking and literacy skills are a few of the topics that will be discussed. Literacy based strategies for early learners with autism and developmental disabilities, coping with stress as well as tips on how to advocate for your child will also be dissected.
February has a lot of edifying and enlightening, self-esteem building activities for our children. Let this be the beginning of a conscious effort to raise our children’s cultural awareness. Don’t let your efforts dwindle after February. PAMA also features a permanent exhibit ; A celebration of our peoples and our stories. “be part of this history and add your family’s story to Peel’s narrative”. So come on over to 9 Wellington Street in Brampton and visit this gem. Did you know that PAMA is located in the old Peel County Jail and that Huey Newton once spent two nights in one of the cells? Explore what it must have been like for this Black Panther co-founder. A family of two adults and up to five children can visit for only $12. Register for the Parent Numeracy and Beyond Conference 2017. Learn more ways that the PDSB is offering to help you to help your child to succeed in school. The best thing about this conference IT’S FREE. So Walk Good. Belle Marché.