KAIROS celebrates Black voices of resistance during Black History Month

Black History Month Blog
Black History Month Blog

KAIROS celebrated Black History Month with a roundtable event on February 22, 2023 that brought together speakers of African descent and of the Diaspora and Indigenous communities in Canada to reflect on Black Resistance in the arts, environmental and social justice, and youth-led activism. It was a rich and enlightening discussion. Speakers discussed existing anti-colonial ways of resistance, youth engagement and their dreams.  

Moderated by Adele Halliday, the Anti-Racism and Equity Lead staff at The United Church of Canada, Voices of Resistance: A celebration of Black History and Imagining Futures featured Patrick Kabeya, a Congolese-Canadian award winning documentary producer based in Ottawa; Ruva Gwekwerere, a Black activist in Sudbury; Juan Rachael Michael Roberto, the Advocacy Coordinator for South Sudan Council of Churches; and Edmond Collins, a lifelong member of Fort William First Nation and Manager Indigenous Relations at Englobe. It also featured Dub poet, Daveisha Francis who read two of her poems. 

Voices of Resistance: A celebration of Black History and Imagining Futures is now available to view, at the end of this article. 

KAIROS is also sponsoring a youth art showcase to celebrate the culture and accomplishments of the Black community and its allies. 

Youth (under 30) worldwide are encouraged to submit their artwork – visual arts, performing arts, musical pieces and written art – along the themes of Black pride and joy, allyship, solidarity and resistance that demonstrates how they have engaged in or experienced Black resistance. Submission deadline: March 29, 2023. Learn more about the Arts Showcase

“Resistance for me in my work is telling our story and representing our history and culture with respect, with understanding, with dignity, and giving our voices and humanity back…. We break those stereotypes that were created by experts who don’t know our culture.” – Patrick Kabeya. 

“… [youth are] starting to understand that the culture has to come back, that we have to start listening to our elders, we have to start understanding the seven grandfather teachings of our past. And I think slowly our youth are starting to get into that.” – Edmond Collins 

“… we want to do away with foreign names that confuse us and make us feel like our names do not have meaning or do not have value. So through naming our children with African names, we are resisting the colonization.” – Juan Rachael Michael Roberto  

“My dream is for people to have not only a sense of history but also a future here.” – Ruva Gwekwerere 

“My black is not what I am. It is who I am. My black skin is not just one thing. It’s my beauty, my excellence, quick wit, difficult to anger, heart of a fighter skin soft as a lover my black is every tongue-lashing acne scars, self-harm coming out, still growing….” – Daveisha Francis.  

“I want to acknowledge the work of the Equity Working Group in bringing our inaugural Black History Month event to fruition… I’m invested in this moment and see it as a ‘KAIROS’ moment. The work we do at KAIROS is through solidarity relationships with many people, partners and, communities here in Canada and globally. KAIROS is committed to advancing our work of activism and resistance in the areas of migrant justice, ecological justice, gender rights and indigenous rights. We step into this opportune moment to teach, to learn, to celebrate, and to be in solidarity with black voices of resistance.” – Aisha Francis, Executive Director of KAIROS Canada 

Cheryl McNamara – KAIROS Communications and Advocacy Coordinator

Filed in: Anti-Racism

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