February 8th, 2021
Throughout Black History Month, the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) is taking time to highlight and remember the ways that African, Caribbean, and Black Canadians have contributed to Canada’s past, present and future, while recognizing the responsibility each of us has to become anti-racists and combat systemic anti-Black racism. We recognize that African, Caribbean and Black heritage needs to be evident in the curriculum all year long, and not just for one month. We need to examine whose voices are being centred, and make space for those voices that are typically silenced.
An important part of this is listening and learning from African, Caribbean and Black identifying (ACBi) students and staff about their lived experiences. In spring 2018, focus groups took place to give students an opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings about their school experiences. Staff soon realized that ACBi students had a valuable perspective that needed to be captured on video and shared so that others could reflect upon their stories and lived experiences, learn from them, and change their practice to be more inclusive. This led to the creation of Our Digital Story that highlights the experiences of ACBi students and staff within our district.
Our Digital Story
These student voices are as poignant today as they were in 2018, when the video was created. Their concerns about how Black History Month is marked and celebrated in our schools and community are still relevant today.
“I feel like, for Black History Month, we didn’t even do anything,” said Taysia, a WRDSB student, highlighting her sense of frustration that this important opportunity to celebrate Black excellence was missed.
Students also spoke about the importance of focusing on the positive aspects of Black history, highlighting the contributions of Black individuals rather than only focussing on slavery.
“There was recently a Black History Month assembly…acknowledging Black excellence,” said Raphael, a WRDSB student in 2018. “It made me proud to be Black.”
We encourage you to watch the video yourself, so you can hear, first-hand, from our students and staff as they share their thoughts on a variety of topics, from how it feels to be a Black student in the WRDSB, to what students would want to say to their teachers and educators.
We want to thank the staff and students who shared their voices and experiences for this video. We acknowledge your bravery in sharing personal stories and your dedication to raising the awareness of those who do not share or fully understand your lived experiences.
Throughout the month of February, to celebrate Black History Month and Black heritage, we will share stories from staff and students and provide resources and information that we hope you will find engaging and helpful.