TDSB selects “Black Joy” as theme for Black History Month

By Jamea Zuberi

Jamea Zuberi

It’s that time where Canadians acknowledge African Heritage Month, Black History Month, Black Queering Month!

It is that time of year where we are all called upon to raise our collective consciousness in celebrating the contributions and achievements of people of African descent in Canada and around the world.

2023 marks the 97th anniversary of Carter G. Woodson’s establishment a legacy of celebrating the contributions of African Americans in the USA, in the month of February, to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The week-long celebration grew into a month-long celebration known as “Black History Month”.

In 1995, Member of Parliament Jean Augustine introduced a motion to make February officially recognized as Black history month across Canada. This motion was unanimously passed by the House of Commons. Last year Jean Augustine celebrated her 85th birthday, and was featured in a documentary of her life’s accomplishments called Steadfast- From Happy Hill to Parliament Hill.

Steadfast chronicles her birth in the Caribbean country of Grenada to becoming the first Black woman to be elected to Canada’s House of Commons, representing the district of Etobicoke-Lakeshore in Toronto Ontario from 1993 to 2006.

Schools, communities, and businesses across the country acknowledge that February is Black History Month, African Heritage Month, Black Queering Month, and used it to celebrate the diversity and contributions Blacks have made to Canada.

Schools across the District choose themes for the month as students of all backgrounds learn the accomplishments of Black Canadians, highlighting historical moments such as the first recorded African interpreter to arrive in Canada, Mathieu Da Costa in the1600s.  

This year the Toronto District School Board’s African Heritage Month Planning Committee selected “Black Joy” as their theme. Joy is one of the TDSB’s overarching priorities this academic school year. The school district is prioritizing the importance of joy, engagement and belonging in schools as a foundation for academic achievement and student success.

Black Joy speaks to how Black people have been able to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally as a people and as a community, despite the systemic barriers faced.