The Black History Month Kick-Off Celebration was hosted by the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton (CCHC) in partnership with the Oakville Museum. Presenting a celebration of black culture in our community through the art forms of music, dance, visual arts, film, storytelling and the oral tradition, this was an evening of high spirits and good fun, amid the snow storm raging outside!
It was an evening that proved worthy of braving the elements and an opportunity to enjoy the story-telling and singing talents of Shelly Hamilton in her stirring, one-woman play, “A New Hope”, and the extremely talented, energetic and engaging Ngoma Drum and Dance Ensemble. Capturing the essence of their cultural heritage, these talented young Ngoma performers, aged 5-25 years, honoured their African ancestry through their dynamic presentation of drum and dance pieces and even invited our Halton Chief of Police, Stephen Tanner, to dance to the beat of their drums.
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The collection of African-Canadian Art with Joan Butterfield as curator, “ColourBlind”, now on display at the Town Hall and well worth a visit. It is a collection of works that “will arouse the conscience, still the mind and soothe the soul”. To really appreciate Black History Month, there is also an exhibit, connected to the Oakville Museum at Erchless Estate, of the many of the events and people instrumental in shaping the rich Black history that is so much a part of the fabric of Oakville. The Town of Oakville played an integral part in the road to freedom for many African Americans through the help of Oakville’s citizens and participation in the Underground Railway.
It is with a great sense of pride, citizenship and commitment that the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton (CCHC) is so involved with Black History Month in Oakville. CCAH President, Veronica Tyrrell warmly welcomed the audience and introduced the celebrations. In the words of Regional Chair, Gary Carr, “The Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton contributes so much to our community through its initiatives such as: youth programs, newcomer integration, networking and volunteerism… The attention you place on education, culture, community and harmony contributes to making Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire”.
The month of February is celebrated across Canada as Black History Month. The National focus this year is to paying a special tribute in the area of law enforcement and the commitment to serve and protect Canadians. Black History Month provides an opportunity to recognize the contributions of our people of African and Caribbean decent who have shared our history, helped to shape our national identity and helped to make Canada the culturally diverse, prosperous and free country that it is today.
The beloved Honourable Lincoln Alexander was Canada’s first Black Member of Parliament and our first Black Lieutenant Governor. He and his family lived in downtown Hamilton and Linc, as he was known, was a “true Canadian pioneer”. You will have an opportunity to view the Screening of the documentary “A Linc in Time” at the Queen Elizabeth Park Cultural Centre, February 22nd 2013, at 7pm.
Other Black History Month celebrations include: February 1-28th at the Oakville Museum: The Underground Railway; Next Stop, Freedom: John Campbell Gospel Concert; February 24th 2013, 2pm, at the Halton Hills Cultural Centre: Jamaican Oral Traditions and Stories; February 26th, at S.E.N.A.C.A. Palermo Branch. Closing the month of Black History Celebration is the talented, local CCAH Steel Band and Friday Night Drummers. Established in 2009, the CCAH Steel Band is rated in the top fourteen best Steel Bands in Ontario and Quebec. Visit the following web-sites for more Black History Month details: www.ccah.ca, www.oakville.ca/museum