Lethbridge College is set to kick-off a month full of activities and learning opportunities that will highlight the diversity of the Black community on campus and honour the history and achievements of Black Canadians.
Black History Month events begin at 10 a.m. Thursday in Centre Core with opening remarks from Lethbridge College President and CEO Dr. Brad Donaldson and second-year General Arts and Science student Theresa Ogaosun.
“Lethbridge College is part of a diverse, supportive and inclusive community,” says Donaldson. “Our role as a post-secondary institution is to ensure we create a safe environment where everyone feels welcome. That’s why it’s so important that we recognize and celebrate Black History Month.”
Thursday is also the first of two Cultural Attire Days planned for February. Students and employees are encouraged to wear clothing or items that represent their culture.
Back by popular demand are Black History Month meal kits supplied by the Lethbridge College Students’ Association. Students can register for a free kit, which includes a recipe card and all of the ingredients needed (minus a protein) to make pilau, a traditional rice dish popular along the Swahili Coast. In the past two years, students have also enjoyed meal kits for Nigerian red stew and West African jollof rice.
In addition, the Lethbridge College Food Court will be offering Black History Month-inspired meals through February, with dishes including black bean soup, sausage gumbo, jollof rice, jerk chicken and peri peri chicken.
Other activities over the next four weeks involve a mix of annual favourites like Black History Month Jeopardy and information booths in Centre Core, as well as new events including a movie night collaboration with the Lethbridge Public Library and Chinook High School, as well as free Afro-fusion dance classes open to college students, employees and community members.
A second Cultural Attire Day and a lunch-and learn with a guest panel of students, alumni and community members will take place Feb. 28.
The college has been holding official Black History Month celebrations each year since February 2017 under the leadership of Dr. Ibrahim Turay, Distance Learning chair and instructor in the Centre for Justice and Human Services.
“In the past decade, the Lethbridge College study body has included individuals from approximately 44 African and Caribbean countries,” says Turay. “This academic year, students from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Jamaica and Congo account for about five per cent of the entire student population, and that doesn’t include students with African ancestry who were born in Canada, the U.S. or other parts of the world.”
Turay, whose research interests include policing, corrections, racial profiling, and youth and gangs, adds, “the presence of this diverse population should be seen as an opportunity to learn from these students about their diverse cultures – from food, music, dance, fashion and more – in a society where their skin colour sometimes signals to others a danger to their safety.”
For a full schedule of Black History Month activities and events, visit lethbridgecollege.ca/black-history-month.