The York Catholic District School Board is proud to celebrate Black History Month throughout the month of February. Catholic schools across York Region will mark Black History Month with special events including visits from guest speakers, theatrical performances, morning reflections, African drumming workshops, school displays, and a variety of classroom learning activities.
Below is a sample of some of the Black History Month events taking place across the York Catholic District School Board.
To kick-off Black History Month, the students and staff of St. Brigid will attend an assembly featuring Duane (D.O.) Gibson. Gibson is a Guinness World Record setting rapper and published author who has inspired thousands of youth since 2001. In 2003 he set the record for the longest freestyle rap. Gibson has performed at over 1,000 schools, toured Canada, the USA, Asia, Europe and several of his music videos play on MuchMusic, including one where Drake made a cameo. As part of his presentation at St. Brigid he will speak about the importance of Black Canadian history and tell the story of Viola Desmond the women who will now be on the ten-dollar bill!
St. Brigid CES, 223 Millard St., Stouffville ON, L4A 5A1
St. Mary Catholic Elementary School in King's Nobleton community will showcase and celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela through a special theatrical presentation by HOZA, called Mandela: Gifts from a Leader. HOZA will be presenting two shows, one for JK – Grade 3 students, the second for Grade 4- 8 students on Tuesday, February 7th. Both shows will be a joyous celebration and deeply touching tribute to the life of Nelson Mandela. The show will encourage students to continue building on Mandela's legacy of truth and reconciliation, peace and justice.
St. Mary CES, 75 Greenside Drive, Nobleton, ON, L0G1N0
St. Mark CES will host a lively, 50-minute interactive performance that includes songs, slides, and storytelling to mark Black History Month. The presentation will tell the history of the Underground Railroad in Canada. This school performance by artists Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley, has been seen by over 90,000 students across Canada in over the past ten years, and this is the final year the couple will present Sugar and Gold. Following the presentation there will be a short question and answer period.
Nadine Williams, a poet and spoken word artist based in the GTA, will speak to students at Our Lady of Peace CES about her experiences as an immigrant child.
Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 1 p.m.
In honour of Black History Month, St. Stephen CES has invited guest speaker Baba Williams to share his talent and his message with the staff, students and parent community. On February 7th, renowned drummer, storyteller and motivational speaker Babarinde Williams will present, From Slave to Saint (The Story of St Josephine Bakhita). This is a journey into Catholic history told through the mouth of a "Griot," which is an African historian and storyteller. The presentation will be a profound lesson in virtue. It starts from the savannah grasslands of the Sudan, circa 1869, and ends at the convent of the Canossian sisters in Schio Italy in 1947. It is the story of an African child who went through the hard and devastating road of slavery to emerge victorious, perfected and beautified. As part of this presentation, students will bring this amazing story to life through the beating rhythm of over 120 drums!
Our Lady of Hope CES will welcome Loretta Penny, author and award-winning presenter, to share a Black History Month presentation with students. Through a series of stories, Penny will engage students to experience the challenges of enslaved men, women, and children along the Underground Railroad. Students will be prompted to reflect on the Catholic virtues of courage, compassion, hope, unity, and perseverance during this presentation.
St. Gabriel the Archangel CES is proud to welcome a professional story teller from the Arts Express Literacy Storytelling Series, to present the powerful story of Clara, a seamstress in the "Big House" who makes a map to the Underground Railway and freedom on a quilt. This story has links to both literacy and social studies, and it will present concepts about the lives of slaves and the function of quilts by African-Americans. In this story the quilt is a route to freedom; however, the discussion of quilts will help students see the historical connection that we have with quilts, as well as the importance of quilts in personal family histories. Presentations will be given throughout the day. Parents are welcome to attend.
St. John XXIII CES will celebrate Black History Month with a special musical performance by Juno-nominated singer/songwriter, Glenn Marais. Marais will also provide students and staff with a glance at the diverse and fascinating history of Black culture with a Canadian focus. His presentation will feature engaging visuals, powerful live music and interesting information on Black history.
Good Shepherd CES will welcome Guest Presenter, Babarinde Williams who will share the story of St. Josephine Bakihita in an engaging and dynamic way using hands-on activities and audition participation. Through the use of various multimedia and drums, Babarinde will engage students in a performance that promises to deliver a powerful message.
Friday, February 10, 2017, 9:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Domenica Ferri-Violante 905-895-0303
St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Elementary School will celebrate Black History Month by hosting an African Drumming presentation by Njacko Backo. Students will have the opportunity to listen Backo as he tells stories that incorporate his drumming. From his early days as a marginalized youth in the village of Bazou, Backo has risen above circumstance to become a living testament to the transformative power of music. The school will also mark Black History month through book displays, morning announcements and recognition of historic figures and current role models through activities at the school.
St. Emily Catholic Elementary School in Woodbridge will commemorate Black History Month by welcoming Storyteller, Author and Poet, Nadine Williams. Williams' presentation is inspired by her poem The Fabric of our Being. She will intrigue the St. Emily school community with her storytelling and poetic abilities, while addressing the significant contributions of African-Canadians have made in our society and the changing fabric of Canada, as we honour our country's 150th anniversary.
St. Padre Pio Catholic Elementary School is proud to celebrate Black History Month by hosting two performances called Mandela: Gifts from a Leader by performance group, HOZA. The first performance is for Kindergarten to Grade 3 students, and the second is for Grade 4 to Grade 8 students. The performances will include age-appropriate information that will take students on a journey of truth, reconciliation, peace and justice through live music, songs, stories and dance.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017, 8:45 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. & 10:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.
San Lorenzo Ruiz CES is proud to invite the award-winning poet and author, Nadine Williams. Through storytelling, poetry, and songs, Williams will encourage students to reflect on the many contributions African-Canadian have made in Canada. She will also present her poem, The Fabric of Our Being in celebration of Canada's 150th Anniversary.
St. Michael Catholic Academy will welcome actor, Leslie McCurdy to perform two shows for Black History Month based on Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Kindergarten – Grade 2 students will watch, Harriet is my Hero, which explores what makes Harriet Tubman a good heroine. Students will actively participate in re-creating some of the aspects of the life of Harriet Tubman through story theatre.Lesley McCurdy's second performance for Grade 3 – 8 students will offer a riveting performance of The Spirit of Harriet Tubman. While there are many plays about Harriet Tubman, the famous African-American abolitionist slave who escaped and led missions to rescue 70 enslaved family and friends, none share her entire life story like a visit with The Spirit of Harriet Tubman. McCurdy will invoke the spirit of Harriet Tubman as she portrays her life in the 1850s, and recreates stories about the Underground Railroad, using words said to have been Harriet Tubman's own.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha CES will welcome Leslie McCurdy from Prologue to the Performing Arts to perform her one-woman play, Things My Fore-Sisters Saw, for the school's junior and intermediate students. This inspirational play highlights Black Canadian history through the experiences of four strong women: Marie-Joseph Angelique, a slave who lived in Montreal; Rose Fortune of Nova Scotia who is considered the first Police-woman in North America; Mary Ann Shadd, the first North American woman to publish and edit a newspaper; and Viola Desmond, who refused to give up a seat in a theatre to segregation.
St. Maximilian Kolbe CHS will hold several events and activities throughout the month of February to further develop awareness around diversity, inclusion and the power of perseverance. Black History Month celebrations at St. Maximilian Kolbe CHS will culminate with an awards ceremony which will highlight the efforts and contributions of students who have contributed to making the Aurora school more accepting, welcoming, safe and caring. The awards ceremony will recognize nominated students as well as empower students to help end all forms of discrimination.
In celebration of Black History education, Cardinal Carter CHS will dedicate the week of February 27 - March 3 to a variety of student led, Black history-related activities. The week will culminate with two assemblies featuring a dynamic production called Notable: The Story of Viola Desmond, aboutthe civil rights icon, Viola Desmond, who broke barriers and provided inspiration to all Canadians around social justice issues. Desmond will become the first Canadian woman to appear on a Canadian dollar bill, when she graces the front of the new Canadian $10 bill.
In recognition of Black History Month, staff and student at Light of Christ will welcome the Hoza performance group for a very special presentation called Mandela: Gifts from a Leader. Through live music, song, story, and dance, students will learn about the struggles of Nelson Mandela in Apartheid South Africa. Nelson Mandela gifted us with a model of leadership, character, courage, and action when faced with abuse of power by a racist establishment.
To complement a variety of Black history themed lessons and opportunities for reflection, a number of school-wide learning experiences have been set for the month at St. Cecilia that will allow students to explore the significant contributions that Black people have made throughout history. Among these events includes a drumming workshop by Mr. Baba Williams and his Drums Et Al for the school's Kindergarten - Grade 2 students, and an 'I Am You' Assembly for the Grade 3 - 8 students. These interactive and engaging opportunities will combine music, philosophy, history, drumming, chanting, singing and media and inspire students to become leaders in conflict resolution.
St. Brendan Catholic Elementary School in Stouffville will be hosting an upbeat African Dance Performance by DOAHL Dance Academy for Black History Month. This performance will engage and educate students about the history of African Dance.
In Africa, dance is a means of marking life experiences, encouraging abundant crops, honoring kings and queens, celebrating weddings, marking rites of passage, and other ceremonial occasions. It communicates emotions, help strengthen the bonds between people and simply brings everyone together as a community. DOAHL Dance Academy takes pride in helping preserve and share the culture and traditions of African dance that helps educate and keep the history alive. It is their joy to uplift through entertainment. DOAHL has been working with schools across Ontario for over a decade and are well known for their highly engaging and interactive style with their presentations which end up leaving students informed, empowered and wanting more. DOAHL will perform historical, social, and ritualistic dance forms. They will dance you through the rich tapestry of black history; take you on a journey through time accompanied by music, dance, visual and spoken word. It promises to be a powerful tribute to Black History so get ready to journey through history with the Clapping of hands, stamping of feet, and most of all singing to create the rhythmic music of African Dance!!