Oakville celebrates Black History Month 2015 with an artistic flair

Singing, dancing, fine art, and exhibits filled Oakville's town hall and there are still more events to celebrate Canada's Black Heritage

Drummers
Oakville celebrates Black History Month 2015 with an artistic flair
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Janet Bedford

Janet Bedford is a broker with Royal LePage in downtown Oakville, with 20 years of real estate experience. Along with helping her clients find the perfect home or sell their home, she is often found photographing the many events that take place in Oakville. She has written extensively for various publications. Janet is a graduate of MacMaster University.

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Oakville’s Black History Month Series 2015 is an annual artistic and cultural showcase by artists and cultural organizations celebrating Black history month. The Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton (CCAH), together with the Oakville Museum, celebrated the kick-off of Black History Month at the Oakville Town Hall, on February 5, 2015.
Featured were drummer Muhtadi, his talented young drummers and a performance by Beyond Sound and jazz duo Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley who recounted a personal story about Diana’s family’s escape to Canada and how they came to settle in Waterloo County near Lake Huron.

In her greetings, MPP Indira Naidoo-Harris told the audience that “Who we are and where we came from is the force that drives us forward. Black History Month is not just about recognition of Black roots, it is about the people coming together to fight for the rights we all deserve. We must learn from our past. We need to understand ourselves as Canadians and to recognize the levels of our freedom.”

Joan Butterfield, curator and art director for the Association of African Canadian Artists, has organized a showing of artworks, featured at the Oakville Town Hall, 1225 Trafalgar Rd. The exhibit encompasses 40 works from many artists and includes both traditional and contemporary art. The works of art are worth seeing and will be open for viewing

Joan Butterfield and her Works of Art

Black History Month 2015, Joan Butterfield and her Works of Art on Display at Oakville Town Hall ; Photo Credit: Janet Bedford

until Feb. 14. Sheridan College students also contributed posters that outlined the Black history and highlighted many of the individuals who shaped Oakville’s history of the Underground Railway period.

Lincoln Alexander was also with us in spirit – represented by his wife, Marni Beal Alexander. Alexander was a model for everyone to emulate. According to an article in Electoral Insights, “Lincoln M. Alexander has accomplished many firsts in a life that has helped remove numerous large barriers for visible minorities in Canada. On June 25, 1968, he made electoral history as the first Black Canadian to be elected to the House of Commons. Eleven years later, he was the first Black person appointed to serve in the federal cabinet. In 1985, Alexander was appointed Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, the first member of a visible minority to serve in that role in any province in Canada. More recently, in 1996, he became the first Chairman of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. He has experienced racism at many stages in his life and has always tried to fight it head on.”

Dignitaries and Talented Performers

Black History Month 2015, Dignitaries and Talented Performers; Photo Credit: Janet Bedford

This year there was no snowstorm! – a great change from the past few years. The event was extremely well attended with people celebrating the highlights of black culture and heritage and appreciating the rich African and Caribbean cultural heritage and history.

Numerous other events will also be held to highlight Black History Month.

  • On Feb. 15, a drumming and slam poetry event will be featured at the Milton Public Library on Main St. from 3-4 p.m.
  • Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre, 2302 Bridge Rd., in Oakville will host a jazz performance Feb. 23 from 2-4 p.m.
  • Frankson, a spoken-word artist also known as Ritallin, will entertain students at St. Bernadette Catholic Elementary School, 1201 Heritage Way, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m.
  • Oakville Museum at Navy Street features two permanent exhibits: Freedom, Opportunity and Family: Oakville’s Black History and The Underground Railroad: Next Stop Freedom Permanent Exhibit.
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