Winnipeg celebrates Black History Month

Black Space Winnipeg and ÉZÈ Studio talk culture and youth involvement

Across the country, the month of February is packed with events celebrating black history. In Winnipeg, this includes a visual art show with music and weekly movie nights. 

Alexa Potashnik is the founder of Black Space Winnipeg, a grassroots community organization that fosters organic dialogue about the everyday experiences of people who are black. 

“I think Black History is receiving higher regard throughout Canada due to social movements and mobilization of black communities,” Potashnik says.

She mentions Black Lives Matter Toronto as a great example of Canadian activist movements that have pushed for justice and accountability. 

Black Space Winnipeg held the first and only public Black Lives Matter vigil in Winnipeg. 

“Social movements like Black Lives Matter create a stronger rhetoric for black people,” she says.

Black Space Winnipeg is approaching Black History Month from a pro-black perspective that not only enlightens but also educates Winnipeggers on both Afro-Canadian and black history, locally and abroad. 

Throughout February, Black Space Winnipeg is hosting a series of film screenings every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Forth (171 McDermot Ave). 

Niasha Mckoy, the creative director and co-founder of ÉZÈ Studio – a Canadian design, culture and media group created by people of colour for people of colour – says Black History Month has been around for more than 30 years.

The contributions of black people in Canada have not always been highlighted in Canadian history. Black History Month was established to rectify this failing through educational entertainment, workshops and other events that take place across the country.

For Black History Month, ÉZÈ Studio is hosting a visual arts show on Feb. 23 at Fleet Galleries (65 Albert St.), starting at 7 p.m. 

Mckoy says she believes the reason Black History Month seems to be celebrated more now is because the younger generation is involved in organizing events, which helps draw in more people from that generation. 

She adds that social media also plays a big part in publicizing black history events.

“The younger generation has been able to push the issue of race to be more top of mind,” Kelechi P. Asagwara, the visual director and co-founder of ÉZÈ Studio, says.

He says social media as a platform has been instrumental in getting the word out.

Asagwara says ÉZÈ Studio celebrates black history by not only speaking to historical black figures but also by highlighting the works and accomplishments of current black leaders in society. 

Asagwara encourages black youth and the entire black community to get more involved and touch base with different platforms that are active right now.

“There’s so many ways to get connected and get involved,” he says.

Published in Volume 71, Number 20 of The Uniter (February 16, 2017)

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