On February 4, 2020, the Vancouver School District hosted an Anti-Racism Youth Summit for secondary students at the Jewish Community Centre. The student-organized summit saw hundreds of teens from across the District gathered together, eager to share and learn from one another.
"The planning committee really wanted the summit to be an opportunity for students to share and voice their concerns about racism," said Raman Gill, District Resource Teacher on Diversity – Anti Racism.
The summit featured several inspiring speakers from the Black community, and members of the National Congress of Black Women. There were a diverse range of information sessions and performances that were centered on topics of Black history in Canada, cultural diversity, anti-racism and human rights.
The day started off with an Indigenous welcome, followed by speaker Adeerya Johnson. The UBC PhD student shared her personal story about growing up as a Black woman in Canada. Her story moved many as she spoke about the need for creating spaces for members in the Black community.
Students also heard from holocaust survivor, Janos Benisz, who shared his real-life experience of living through the holocaust.
Throughout the day, students shared why they thought the topics are so important. Britannia Secondary Grade 12 student Jesse said "Racism definitely still impacts me today as a black person. Black history month is just so important to create visibility to the black experience."
"I want to learn about Black history. I have family that still faces racism. Racism affects everyone in any possible way. The fact that we get to learn about it today I'm really thankful for," shared Deaunte, a Grade 12 student at Britannia Secondary.
"It's awesome for people who are not Black to learn more about Black history. Growing up, we did not learn that much about it in elementary school. Now that we are celebrating it, I get to learn so much more about things that I didn't even know happened" said Dean, a Britannia Secondary Grade 12 student.
Stay tuned for our video blog on the summit and more Black History Month events and activities throughout the month of February! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!