Motivational speakers, authors, culture fairs and tours of the Black History Museum are helping York Region District School Board students commemorate the history of Black people, while learning about the many contributions they’ve made in Canada.

Events include an annual writing, poetry and art contest open to both elementary and secondary students. Hosted by Inclusive School and Community Services, this year’s theme is social identity and fighting racism.

“Black History Month is an excellent opportunity to work with our community partners to celebrate the diversity of our schools and the contributions of members of the African-Canadian diaspora,” said Cecil Roach, education, equity and community services coordinating superintendent, in a news release.

The York Catholic District School Board is also celebrating Black History Month. In late January, Markham students attended an event hosted by the City of Markham and the Markham African Caribbean Canadian Association at the Flato Theatre. The theme, Hidden Innovators, highlighted the many contributions Black people made in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

On a visit to St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic Elementary School, rapper, motivational speaker and author Duane (D.O.) Gibson will talk with students about Viola Desmond, a Nova Scotia businesswoman who challenged racial segregation at a film theatre in the 1940s and will be featured on the new Canadian $10 bill. He’ll also talk about Josiah Henson, a freedom fighter who travelled the Underground Railroad to Canada in 1830 and will lead a game of ‘name that tune’ that highlights music by Black artists. Other Catholic schools will host theatrical performances, morning reflections, guest speakers and school displays.

Meanwhile, York Regional Police celebrated Black History Month on Feb. 3, at its Aurora headquarters. The theme, Black History is My History, celebrated the many accomplishments of community members.

“On behalf of all members of York Regional Police, we are proud to recognize the contributions that our officers have made in our community,” Chief Eric Jolliffe said. “It is my pleasure to invite our community to join us in celebrating 22 years of Black History Month in Canada.”

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