As Black History Month ends, activists say the conversation must continue

As Black History Month ends, activists say the conversation must continue
WatchAs Black History Month winds down, Victoria activists are pushing for awareness year-round. Rebecca Lawrence reports.


The final day in February marks the end of Black History Month, but the conversation isn’t over for activists in Victoria.
“It’s an opportunity to showcase the past the future and the present,” said local activist Pamphinette Buisa. “It’s an opportunity to talk about the joys, the hardships, the tremendous experiences there is within our communities.”

The first Black History Month was officially recognized across Canada 25 years ago as a way to recognize and honour the contributions that Black people make, and have made, to society. It also celebrates resilience, innovations and determination to work towards a more diverse and inclusive Canada.

“Black History Month is about this outpouring of both identification and appreciation of Black culture, Black struggle and everything that comes on the spectrum in between,” said Caleb Asfaw, a 23-year-old who grew up in Victoria.

But it’s also a time to recognize the struggles of the Black community, many of which were brought to the forefront over the past year as the Black Lives Matter movement swept over the globe.

“We have made so much groundbreaking work in getting people to understand and see,” said Asfaw. “It’s unfortunate the events that we had to have to really be humanized is the loss of human life.”

The Black Lives Matter movement swept across the globe last year following the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis who was killed by a police officer in May. Protests and demonstrations, demanding systemic change and justice were carried out in cities across the world, including Victoria.

READ MORE: ‘My whole heart is warm:’ Thousands gather at Victoria’s Centennial Square for Black Lives Matter event

While February serves as an opportunity to bring these issues to light, activists say the message must continue after the month ends.

“Black history month is the month that we bring to the centre, but also, I’m black all the time from January to December, my skin colour does not change,” said Buisa. “It’s important when we talk about these months, that we continue to use the momentum from this month into the next month.”

Buisa says although it’s Black History Month, it’s important to stand against injustice with Indigenous communities.
“Whenever we talk about Black peoples and the different communities, we have to also walk in solidarity with our Indigenous brothers and sisters and people in that community.
Asfaw, who says he was often the only black student in his class or school growing up in Victoria, believes that change and action are possible for the Black community.

“If we move forward and forward, push this into the education system the same way we do it with other major issues, it really could foresee change in the same sense that we saw in the last 100 years in progression,” said Asfaw.

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Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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