The Government of Canada declared February as Black History Month 25 years ago. Led by the Honourable Jean Augustine, the first Black woman federal cabinet minister, Black History Month is a time dedicated to sharing, celebrating and honouring the impact of Black heritage and culture. 

Although a quarter century has passed, the importance to recognize Black excellence remains just as significant. 

In the spring of 2020, the world was angered and united in the wake of brutal acts of racism across North America. In June, the University of Waterloo solidified their plans to engage the campus community in addressing racism on campus by introducing the  President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce (PART). On Friday, Feb. 26, PART will host their first event called “Rooted in history – a celebration of Black history as Canadian history”. 

Comprised primarily of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) members, PART dedicates its work to ending systemic racism and holds itself to guiding principles towards realizing a more inclusive environment. 

“Transparency, conversation and engagement within the campus community are key,” says Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor. “We want to ensure that this level of transparency is met by amplifying the voices of the BIPOC community, learning and growing from lived experiences.” 

Highlighting music from local Canadian-Caribbean vocalist Rufus John, keynote remarks by Member of Provincial Parliament for Kitchener Centre Laura Mae Lindo, and a panel discussion hosted by Kathy Hogarth, special advisor to PART and professor with the School of Social Work at Renison University College, the event will celebrate the achievements of Black Canadians and members of Waterloo’s Black community.

“This event is a historical moment for the University of Waterloo, affirming its commitment to confronting and addressing racism in its midst,” Hogarth says. “These moments of all communities coming together to celebrate BIPOC excellence offers rich spaces for dialogue and potential for change — change that is so desperately needed through the institution”. 

PART has expanded its website to include a new page that recognizes Black History Month, stories of Black excellence, and will promote in the weeks to follow various events related to anti-racism and updates of their work.   

To find out more about the Rooted in History event happening Friday, Feb. 26, visit the PART website.