Catholic schools celebrate Black History Month

Catholic schools across York Region will mark Black History Month in February with special events that include celebrating Black inventors and scientists, drumming workshops and learning about African traditions.

Both St. Mary Catholic Elementary School (CES) in Nobleton and St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic High School in Woodbridge will host a presentation on Black Canadian Heroes that chronicles the lives and times of Canadians of African descent, including Mathieu de Costa, the first known Black person in Canada, and various figures from the Underground Railroad.

The presentation will also profile Black inventors and scientists like Elijah McCoy (from whom we got the phrase “the real McCoy”) and Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbott, the first licensed Canadian-born Black physician. Students will also discuss the contribution of war heroes like Richard Pierpont and William Hall.

Guinness world record-setting rapper and author Duane D.O Gibson will visit St. John Chrysostom CES in Newmarket. His presentation will focus on Canadian heroes like Viola Desmond, who helped start the modern civil rights movement in Canada, and freedom fighter Josiah Henson. Students will be invited to rap with him to traditional spiritual music and play a game of ‘name that tune’ to songs by Black artists.

Kevin Fell and Derek Thorne from HOZA take an interactive presentation to Holy Name CES in King City that encourages students to participate in drumming, singing and dancing while also exploring the values of peace, solidarity, cooperation, equality and respect. Award-winning author Aubrey Clarke will visit St. Patrick CES in Markham and share stories that explore topics like bullying. At St. Paul CES in Newmarket, musician Njacko Backo will share information about his life experiences and African traditions, history and values through stories, songs and dance.


Late last year, the Bank of Canada issued the new vertical $10 bank note featuring the portrait of social justice icon Viola Desmond. (CNW Group/Bank of Canada)

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