Youth group to host Black History Month activities
February marks Black History Month across the world, and one youth group is making sure their history is marked properly in Steinbach.
A group from the black community will be undertaking a series of workshops and activities at Steinbach Regional Secondary School to showcase black culture and their contributions to Canadian society.
“We don’t want to highlight disparages among each other, we’re celebrating black culture and the black contribution to Canada,” said Neville Hamilton.
Hamilton runs IRAL Creatives, a youth group which meets every Sunday at Di Reggae Grill, Hamilton’s restaurant on Main Street, to help develop artistic skills and foster a culture of creativity among youth of colour in the city.
Recently, ahead of Black History Month a participant of Hamilton’s youth group told him he felt more could be done to celebrate black culture within his school.
“He took it personally because he felt his black history and culture before him is not properly represented, how much black people contributed to our society,” Hamilton said.
After group-wide discussions, Hamilton and the group stepped things up.
First, the group dove in to their own history, learning about figures like Mathieu Da Costa, considered to be the first known black African to visit Canada while serving as an interpreter for French and Dutch traders and explorers in the early 17th century.
The discussions helped to shape what sort of activities the group wanted to make available to interested students: Hair styling, music presentations, arts and crafts and culinary presentations will be part of the resources available for students at SRSS. Members of IRAL Creatives will be hosting the events, with support from SRSS staff and Hamilton.
For Hamilton, representation in schools is important for the future of the black community in Steinbach.
“There’s a sense of pride that goes with knowing that your ancestors, or somebody, was a part of something,” he said. “Then you kind of try to emulate their standards and I think that is important for the kids today.”