By: Ayesha Umair
One of the best ways to educate children and young students about the barriers Black individuals face is through speakers. Using just a short presentation or event, youth can learn much about how Black individuals have impacted Canadian history, the injustices they have faced, and the many crucial roles that they play now in our society. Inviting professionals, educators, historians, business leaders, and other such individuals can have an enormous impact on how knowledgeable youth are about our history. Here, we include some pertinent organizations with speakers and events, and we offer connections to mental health awareness groups.
The Ontario Black History Society (https://blackhistorysociety.ca/)
This organization hosts a variety of events, with many members who have expertise in areas of Black history, racial injustices, steps towards equity, and so on. Many of their regularly published blog posts cover areas of mental health, such as community healing and the emotional toll of dealing with a racist environment. They also publish many online resources, such as promotional videos, that encourage young people to learn about their cause.
Canadian Mental Health Association BHM Events (https://toronto.cmha.ca/news/cmha-toronto-celebrates-black-history-month/)
The CMHA regularly commemorates Black history month in a large event with a number of speakers to address barriers that Black individuals face when seeking mental health support. This may include racism, sexism, access to education, and inadequate housing. Discrimination plays a large role in this issue; according to the above website, “Black Ontarians of Caribbean descent experience 2 times the delay in accessing evidence-based services than individuals of white European descent”.
Amherstburg Freedom Museum (https://amherstburgfreedom.org/)
The Amherstburg Freedom Museum, near Windsor, Ontario, serves to tell “the story of African-Canadians’ journey and contributions, by preserving stories and presenting artifacts that educate and inspire”. It also features a variety of tours, events, and speakers during Black History Month, including their recent free virtual event.
Passages to Canada (http://passagestocanada.com/invite-a-speaker/_)
An off-shoot of Historica Canada, Passages to Canada involves a number of speakers on different historical events that can be invited to present their topic of expertise, including Black history and the obstacles they may face when accessing mental health services. They are currently on a hiatus due to the ongoing pandemic, but will likely continue their initiatives as they re-open.
The Carribean Canadian Association of Waterloo Region (http://ccawr.ca/events/black-history-month/#:~:text=In%20December%201995%2C%20the%20House,by%20the%20House%20of%20Commons.)
The CCAWR hosts a number of events on Carribean Canadian history on many social media platforms. If contacted, they “can suggest and provide speakers on the themes of Diversity, Inclusion, Black Canadians and similar themes”. They also host a variety of volunteer opportunities for individuals who want to learn more about the organization and aid with their initiatives.
Although Black History Month has ended, it’s important that we continue to seek education on discrimination, mental health injustices, and current progress in this area. It is our responsibility to ask questions and learn more about this subject, to try to contribute towards achieving mental health equity for all.