February 1, 2024

February marks the start of Black History Month in Canada, full of festivities that honour the culture and legacy of Black Canadians and their communities.

The Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton’s (CCAH) 2024 theme for Black History Month is: Celebrating Culture and History. This theme represents both an opportunity to take part in events and exhibits around town over the next few weeks that honour the culture of Black Canadians and learn about the historical role Oakville has played.

Here are some of the events and exhibits happening around Oakville this month:

Black History Month Launch Celebration

Join the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton (CCAH) on February 1st at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts as they kick off Black History Month in Oakville.

This year’s event includes a keynote speech by Anthony Sherwood, who will review his passion for shedding light on Oakville’s Black history. There will be performances by Juno award winner Jully Black, as well as Whitney Houston tribute artist Geri Defoe! The show will also feature youth performances by the Arthouse Children’s Choir, a Girl Power’d dance performance, and a student poem.

Be sure to attend the 6 p.m. reception to catch a performance by the CCAH Steel Band. To learn more about the event and to purchase tickets, click here.

2024 Black History Month Art Gallery Opening

Join the CCAH at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre on February 4th at 2:00 p.m. as they open a month-long celebration of Afrocentric Art and Artifacts. The art exhibits aim to illuminate the captivating beauty and essence of a people. Featuring visually stunning works, these exhibits celebrate the profound richness of our culture. Carefully curated, each piece serves as a visual representation, offering a platform for sharing, connecting, and engaging with one another. Artists will be available for Q&A.

Caribbean-inspired finger foods will also be served by Chef Romaine of Access Gourmet and non-alcoholic beverages provided by Nickel Brook Brewing Co.

General Admission is FREE. Registration is required via CCAH. Reserve a spot for the gallery opening here.

Storytelling experience for children: Mhina’s Gift

Join in at the Glen Abbey branch of the Oakville Public Library on February 10th at 10:00 a.m. for a community building and storytelling experience with featured author, Cameile Henry, in celebration of Black History Month. In this family-friendly event, children come together to foster connections and celebrate diversity through engaging activities and captivating stories. The featured book for the program is “Mhina’s Gift” which highlights bravery and friendship and celebrates courage and the importance of embracing our unique gifts.

The tickets for this event are limited. To register, click here.

Black History Explorers Exhibit at Oakville Museum

Explore local Black history on February 16th with an exhibit hosted by the CCAH, Oakville Museum and Oakville Public library. The session will run from 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Go on a family-friendly exhibit outdoor walking tour with museum staff; enjoy storytime with the Oakville Public Library; and get creative in a craft corner with the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton. All sessions will be conducted at the Carriage House on Erchless Estate. The meeting point will be the main entrance, at 8 Navy St.

To register for this event, click here.

Lunch and Learn – Resonance of Resilience: Celebrating Black History Month (FEB 21)

Join in at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre on February 21st for a workshop celebrating Black History Month, which includes a an art gallery tour and a unique opportunity to explore the cultural significance of the steelpan—an instrument deeply rooted in African and Caribbean heritage.

Engage in conversations over lunch that highlight the strength of diversity – fostering an inclusive culture where everyone feels valued and heard. The event will run from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Registration is required for this event. Register here.

Public film premiere of “Finding Freedom on the Sixteen”

Purchase tickets and head down to Film.ca Cinemas to take in the public premiere of “Finding Freedom on the Sixteen” on February 26th. The premiere will run from 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

The film tells the amazing story of former enslaved African Americans from the State of Maryland and Louisiana who fled in search of freedom to the small town of Oakville, Ontario in Canada. During the mid 1800’s, these early Black settlers helped reshape the future of Oakville and made significant contributions to the history of Canada.

Finding Freedom is produced in association with CCAH and features its own archived pictures of past president and an interview with the current president. The CCAH founder was a descendant of the Duncan family, one of the first Black families that settled in Oakville as part of the Underground Railroad. The film was an official selection for the Baltimore International Black Film Festival 2023 and won Audience Choice – International Film.

Tickets for the premiere are limited. You can purchase them here.

Land and Legacy: Celebrating Black History Month & Oakville’s Treaty Day

To commemorate Black History Month and acknowledge Oakville’s Treaty Day, the CCAH and Debwewin Oakville have partnered for a joint film screening at Film.ca Cinemas on February 28th from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. See below for details of the two films.

Legacy Voices 2: New Generation

This film showcases the Black experience through the firsthand accounts of four individuals as they discuss their experiences of living in the Halton Region and explore how they will leave a legacy. This is a follow-up to the award-winning documentary Legacy Voices.

The Debwewin Oakville Truth Series

 A collection of videos which explores the themes of reciprocity and reconciliation through three separate perspectives; our connection to the land, the recognition of historical treaties and our connections with one another.

These two screenings will be followed by a live Q & A moderated by Oakville Festival of Film and Art’s Wendy Donnan.

Learn more and purchase tickets here.

Oakville Museum Permanent Exhibits

Head down to Oakville Museum any time to take in their permanent exhibits, which cover Oakville’s own black history and the historic roles the town has played.

Freedom, Opportunity and Family: Oakville’s Black History

This exhibit features artifacts, pictures, text and a documentary video that tell the stories of many of the African-American families who settled in Oakville and were important to the development of the community.

Discover the story of Branson Johnson, a freeborn African-American, who arrived in Oakville with his family in 1855. His Certificate of Freedom from a Maryland court and the pocket watch in which it was hidden for many years are featured.

The Underground Railroad: Next Stop, Freedom

This exhibit, created by Parks Canada in partnership with the Ontario Black History Society and the Royal Ontario Museum, tells the true story of Deborah Brown through a multi-media presentation. It’s here visitors will learn of her heroic flight from a life of slavery in Maryland to her new life of freedom in 19th-century Toronto.

Oakville’s Early Black History: Virtual Tour

Not able to make it over to the museum in-person? You can still enjoy a virtual tour of “Oakville’s Early Black History” exhibit, which offers an interactive view of the exhibit space allowing visitors to read about and watch videos about the historic figures in Oakville’s history.

Learn more about these exhibits as well as other seasonal exhibits offered by the museum here.

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