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VIDEO: Tracking Black History: Learning about often forgotten histories of early black communities across Canada

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A travelling cross-country presentation, titled Tracking Black History, made its way to Britannia Secondary, Gladstone Secondary and Byng Secondary last week. The presenters, a brother and sister team, Omari and Akilah, created an entertaining and educational lesson that included slam poetry, jokes and quizzes to give the audience a glimpse of the often-forgotten Black communities and brave individuals that contributed to Canada's rich history.

Throughout the interactive presentation, students answered many of Omari's questions such as, "Who is the first Black person recorded in Canada?" A couple of students shouted out Mathieu da Costa, as the first Black person recorded in Canada in the 1600s, which was correct!

When asked to raise their hands if they had heard of Jimi Hendrix, the majority of students shot up their hands. However, many did not know about Jimi Hendrix's grandmother, Nora Hendrix, who co-founded the Fountain Chapel Church, that was the heart of the Black Strathcona community in Vancouver in the early to mid-20 th century.

Ending the show Omari reminded students that Black people have lived in Canada for a very long time. "As you have learned in this presentation, we played a key part in contributing the makeup of this country," Omari noted.

"The presentation gave me a lot of incentive to go home and research more about Black history in Canada," says Grade 9 Gladstone Secondary Avery Dirkson.

The presentation was organized by Overture with the Arts, a non-profit organization offering education in music, dance, drama and vocal training.

Learn more about Overture with the Arts.

Learn more of students' experiences in the video.

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