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Lifting Black voices, celebrating Black Excellence and learning about diversity in our communities

| Categories: Events & Celebrations

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Education is one of the most powerful tools to achieve racial equality. As a District, we stand in support of human rights, equity, anti-oppression, anti-racism, and non-discrimination as we continue to work toward enhancing a culture of inclusivity, empathy, and respect in our schools.

After receiving overwhelming support on Black Shirt Day in January 2021, the Ninandotoo Society created Black Excellence Day – an initiative to provide a meaningful, inclusive, and accessible learning opportunity for students across Canada.

Today, the province officially announced that January 14 is Black Excellence Day – a day to acknowledge the strength and resiliency of Black communities and fight for social justice for all. 

In addition to the thousands of students and educators, more than 120 classes in the Vancouver School District participated in today’s virtual event – to listen and learn about Black stories and the history of Black Canadians. 

The event saw a range of moving speakers, including the associate deputy minister responsible multiculturalism & anti-racism, Angela Cook and Holocaust survivor Lillian Boraks-Nemetz. 

Part of the event showcased videos of students from different schools explaining what Black Excellence means to them. 

Malaika Bernard-Massey, a grade 6 student from Hastings Elementary says: “Black Excellence means celebrating all of the achievements that Black people have made, despite all of the discrimination they have faced.” 

Louis Paul, a grade 12 from Vancouver Technical Secondary shares: “I feel that the Black population in BC and in Canada is shockingly low. I think because of that, there is a shared struggle within the Black community that has to do with finding where you fit in. I think that Black Excellence has a lot to do with personal success – whatever that may mean to you. It’s about accepting who you are and how far you’ve come.” 

With Black History Month around the corner, many teachers are also incorporating lessons on Black Excellence in their classrooms. Nikitha Fester, a grade 12 French Immersion teacher at Vancouver Technical Secondary is working on a poetry storybook project with her 12 students about Black Canadians. 

“We’re having students from Secord Elementary draw portraits of notable Black Canadians and my students are planning to write poems to correspond with the portraits,” says Fester. 

At Moberly Elementary, members from their Parent Advisory Council (PAC) purchased t-shirts for the entire school to acknowledge the day. 

“For Black Excellence Day, students are embroidering words and symbols to represent love, unity, and acceptance,” says Jocelyn Fernandez, a Moberly PAC member. 

The District encourages all students and staff to continue the conversation, amplify diverse voices and share their perspectives to highlight Black Excellence throughout the school year and beyond. 

View Ninandotoo Society’s list of Black Excellence Day resources for classrooms. 

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