During Black History Month, students at Prince of Wales Secondary had the chance to hear from Canadian senators, one of whom is Mobina Jaffer. Jaffer is the first Muslim senator, the first senator of South Asian descent, and the first senator born in Africa. Two classes of Law 12 students heard from Jaffer. Vivian Guo, Grade 11 student, shared her thoughts:
“In light of Black History Month and acknowledging Black people who’ve shaped a part of not only Canada’s identity but that of the world’s, my class participated in the Black History Month Event: the Future is Now. Coordinated by SENgage (Senators Engaging Youth, the Senate of Canada's outreach and education program which coordinates and facilitates senator visits to classrooms, among other work), this Zoom conference helped us connect and engage in discussion with Senator Mobina Jaffer—one of the five senators in attendance. Being the first Muslim, African-born, and South Asian senator, Senator Jaffer depicted how she overcame strenuous challenges she’d faced in order to promote diversity, equality, and human rights. One main thing Senator Jaffer recounted was the prejudice and stereotyping she received upon being appointed right after the 9/11 attack, yet she simply persevered and kept engaging as many people as she could, creating real changes in Canadian society.
Her resilience and fierce spirit evoked awe and amazement in all of us. Further, her nonstop advocacy of human rights for all Canadians, especially Black citizens, touched us with the realization that change must happen.
Moreover, vastly different from simply hearing and reading about race injustice in the news, I encountered something completely new during this conference: obtaining the portrayal of race inequality from an individual with first-hand experience gave me a more vivid and fresher perspective on the issue. Another important takeaway is the message that change can happen with even the smallest measures.
I believe Senator Jaffer’s words resonated in all of us and brought out the urge to create and achieve racial equality. In addition, her guidance and advice as to how youth engagement could take place opened our eyes. She inspired us to truly value diversity, too. This conference truly exceeded my expectations.”
Read more about how students in the Vancouver School District shared and celebrated their learnings about Black history:
Vancouver students explore and share the African epic narrative during Black History Month
Students use creativity and technology to share their learnings about Black history
Students across districts gather virtually to listen, discuss, and raise Black voices
Students mark Black History Month with art, literature and reflection
Image courtesy of Senator Mobina Jaffer