Black History Month began with a lively celebration in Etobicoke, where Angela Thomas and the indigenous group, Eagle Spirits of the Great Waters, along with Councillor Stephen Holyday, set the stage for a month of reflection and inspiration.
In his remarks, Holyday aptly compared Black History Month exhibit to the growth of a bear – slow but steady. The display of Black history in Etobicoke, much like the bear, has grown over time. However, the reason for this growth isn’t a lack of Black history but rather a lack of recognition. Angela Thomas, through her dedication, has brought this history to life, unveiling an ever-expanding tapestry of stories.
“Remembering” isn’t just a passive act; it’s a call to action, as the city councillor pointed out. Drawing parallels to his work on a Sports Hall of Fame board, he emphasized the importance of recognizing individuals who have made significant contributions to society. The displays in Etobicoke feature soldiers, academics, artists, athletes, and more, all of whom have shaped the nation. The goal is to inspire not only people of color but everyone who hears these stories.
Holyday stressed that history isn’t confined to a single month or day; it’s a year-round endeavor. Black history in Canada dates back centuries, even before the country was named Canada. The first person of color to set foot in Canada, over 400 years ago, worked alongside Samuel de Champlain. It’s a rich history that deserves recognition and celebration throughout the year.
Thomas was lauded for her tireless efforts, as were various organizations and community members who came together to make the event possible. Anthony Alexander of Toronto Police Service 22 Division expressed gratitude for the enduring partnership with Thomas.
Holyday went on to emphasize the beauty of celebrating each other’s cultures, fostering unity among communities. He praised Thomas as a West Mall community giant and an exemplary leader in promoting inclusivity and understanding.
The event was a testament to the power of cultural celebration, featuring captivating performances by the Eagle Spirits of the Great Waters, drumming sessions, singalongs with Keith Pascal, and dazzling dances by the Elite Dancers along with African and Caribbean food and snacks.
As Black History Month unfolds, Angela Thomas and the entire Etobicoke community have set the tone for a month of learning, appreciation, and unity. It’s a reminder that history is alive and thriving, waiting to be shared and celebrated year-round.