Black Canadian women and their stories of strength, courage and vision were celebrated during Black History Month at Durham College. These stories were shared on Feb. 21 in the Student Services Building at Durham College by Whitby MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Esther Forde owner of Cultural Expressions Gallery in Ajax and Uchechi Ezurike-Bosse, author, speaker and TV host.
Caesar- Chavannes, shared her vision. A vision to build bridges between communities. In the end we are building bridges between Canadians and discussing the inclusion we need to work towards, says Caesar-Chavannes. True inclusion appreciates expression and brings value to the table, she says.
Esther Forde, shared her courage, her love for the arts and her decision to open an art gallery 11 years ago in Ajax. Her courage was shown as she had no business experience and was not part of the established art community. But she wanted to engage the community with a diverse background in the arts. She brought the arts with a distinct colour from Africa to Canada. Her gallery features art from 20 to 30 different countries.
Ezurike- Bosse, talked about strength. The first woman she saw to show great strength was her mom. Seeing her work hard, as a single mom raising three daughters instilled hard work in her. Her mom did what she had to do working three jobs to put food on the table and make sure her children got an education. With this knowledge she names five key things to help towards having no labels or limitation in life. Among her keys: take time, show belief, act and expand outside the comfort zone, surrender your vision to a higher power and last know you are not alone when you rise.
In wrapping up Caesar-Chavannes said “Black history is Canadian history it is isn’t about separating groups. This is about recognition that we have a painful past in this country. And that truth supersedes anything else, we have to pay attention to that truth.”
Allison Hector-Alexander, Durham College’s director of diversity, inclusion and transitions says, “Black History really is Canadian History.” “When we act as a community and we act as allies for each other we get the recognition. Where other people are acknowledging, it’s authentic and it helps the community to know that they do have allies.”
The event ended with poems from local artist Greg Frankson, who says “Black History Month is the month to be really cool, black and artistic.”