Since 1995, Canada has officially recognized February as Black History Month. Twenty years later, the UNB Art Centre is planning a few ways to commemorate the important occasion.
Sarah King is the program assistant at the UNB Art Centre and says that a lot of planning has gone into making this Black History Month special.
“Last year, the Art Centre noticed that Black History Month was not receiving much attention on campus or in the broader Fredericton community and recognized that this was a void that needed to be filled,” said King.
“This year we are focusing on one key individual in the Black Atlantic Canadian community, filmmaker and poet Sylvia Hamilton, whose work highlights the historic and ongoing systemic racism that has affected Black Atlantic Canadians.”
Sylvia Hamilton, an award-winning poet and director, will be making a stop on campus on Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.
Along with Hamilton’s poetry reading at Memorial Hall, a noon-hour film series at Memorial Hall will run from Monday, Feb. 2 to Friday, Feb. 6, screening Hamilton’s films as well as others related to the black history of Canada.
“The UNB Art Centre’s mandate is to take a ‘multi-cultural, multi-generational, and multi-disciplinary approach to education,’ ” explained King.
“The Black History Month programming we offer fulfills this mandate and offers members of the UNB community and the broader Fredericton community an opportunity to engage together with an important piece of our history that is often neglected and under-discussed.”
Hamilton’s films have been screened on CBC, TVO, the Knowledge Channel and on university campuses across the country. She has received many awards for her work, including a Gemini award, the CBC Television Pioneer Award and Nova Scotia’s Portia White Prize for Excellence. Her collection of poetry, And I Alone Escaped to Tell You, deals with the settlement of African peoples in Nova Scotia.
“Black history is an important part of Atlantic Canadian history. The films and discussions held this year will give students and community members an opportunity to interact with a key artist in the Black Atlantic Canadian community,” said King.
“Sylvia Hamilton is a key voice in the discussions being held across Canada, and more broadly, on the systemic racism experienced in Canada. Attending these events will give participants the opportunity to engage in conversations that can improve our campuses and communities in Atlantic Canada.”