By Lincoln DePradine
The book is just 10 pages. However, the publishers of “Deeply Rooted, a Hamilton Black History Activity Book”, believe it’s a crucial educational asset in promoting “cultural pride and self-esteem’’ among its primary target audience – children three to 12 years of age.
“I think it’s important for us to have our young people understand their history,’’ Evelyn Myrie, president of the Afro Canadian Caribbean Association (ACCA), said last Sunday. “We have to start early; start getting kids to have fun, learning Black history through fun.’’
“Deeply Rooted’’ was formally launched Sunday during a virtual Emancipation Day event of ACCA, a non-profit organization founded in 1979 that “strives to provide a vehicle for uniting all African, Canadian and Caribbean people residing in the Hamilton region’’.
ACCA commissioned Aaron Parry, 22, to write and illustrate “Deeply Rooted’’. The children’s colouring and activity book introduces young people to the history and contribution to Hamilton of Black Canadians.
The association would like to get “Deeply Rooted’’ into the Hamilton school system, Myrie said.
“We want to reach our kids early,’’ said Myrie. “We have to tell our own stories; we need to shape our narrative’’.
Myrie, commenting on the work done by Parry, said she was “absolutely thrilled. I couldn’t be more pleased with what I’ve seen’’.
Parry – a writer, visual artist and graphic designer – said “Deeply Rooted’’ is not just for Canadians of African descent.
“It’s also very important for people outside of our community to know the contributions that Black Hamiltonians have had to the city; the history that we have but is often not really taught in the classroom or not made very accessible to youth,’’ he said. “I don’t remember seeing a single activity book like this when I was a kid.’’
According to Parry, who is a graduate student in the Cultural Studies and Critical Theory program at McMaster University, “once you know what your community has done, it enriches your idea of place and your sense of self’’.
Apart from the book launch, ACCA’s Emancipation Day commemoration included cultural performances and speakers addressing issues of freedom and justice.
Despite the passage of the Emancipation Act in 1834 and changes that have happened since then, the struggle for “true and meaningful Black liberation’’ still continues’’, said Matthew Green, federal MP for Hamilton Centre.
While Emancipation Day is a celebration, it’s “also a reminder of the amount of work we have to do,’’ said Dr Laura Mae Lindo, provincial representative for Kitchener Centre.
She’s also chair of the Ontario NDP Black Caucus and the party’s critic for Citizenship and Immigration Services and Anti-Racism.