June 22nd, 2024

U of L kicks off Black History Month

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on February 2, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The University of Lethbridge on Tuesday kicked off its recognition of Black History Month in Canada.
The virtual opening ceremony featured a talk by Sandra Dixon, an associate professor in the Faculty of Education who shared her experiences as a Black scholar.
On Thursday, the U of L will address anti-Black racism in a fireside chat featuring the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion which will discuss with thought leaders “what organizations can do to continue the hard work of dismantling anti-Black racism and continue to build concrete ways to sustain these efforts.” That session runs from 11 a.m. until noon.
On Feb. 10 from 2 to 3 p.m. a University of Lethbridge Student Union panel will have Dr. Jerome Cranston and professor Collins Ifeonu speak about continuous systemic racialization within Canadian post-secondary education institutions.
On Feb. 17, from 11 a.m. until noon, the university will examine the history of race and racism in Canada by revisiting historic events that influenced race relations and trace how ideological constructions created inequalities that exist in society today.
Dixon thanked the U of L’s EDI (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) scholars program committee for giving her one of three awards for the 2021-22 academic year.
“It is a privilege to be one of the first EDI scholars at the U of L,” he said.
Her project focus as an EDI scholar is on the living experiences of racialized women in academia, she said.
“This innovative work intends to disrupt the history of dismissing narratives, that for the most part, have tended to put various labels on us including being called aggressive black women.
“Given our current climate and the resurgence of social movements, we strongly believe that this EDI project is warranted and timely within the U of L community and beyond,” Dixon said.
Dixon, who calls herself a cis-gender Jamaican Canadian immigrant woman of Christian faith, said accepting the invitation to speak Tuesday was challenging. But after prayer and reflection, she accepted it “because I think it is important and it’s a great opportunity to attempt to paint a positive picture of some of our contributions as Black people in Alberta and Canada,” Dixon added.
She indicated her faith has helped her through her journeys in five prominent Canadian universities.
“As you might suspect, it has been a very difficult journey for me as a young scholar who was faced (with) and continues to face frequent challenging reactions from professional colleagues,” she said, adding her work has often been labelled as contentious.
“As Black people, most of us have to be strong to survive. We have our unique strengths and we want to be able to share and build on these strengths in a very diverse space,” she told the meeting.
Dixon said like Martin Luther King Jr., she also has a dream which is that “no longer will Black Canadians deny their roots or reject their heritage.”
That dream also includes that “critical thinking will create discomfort with the status quo,” she said.
Dixon added “as individuals we continue to strive for a better nation that is filled with hope where we can reclaim and honour our voices.
“On the first day of Black History Month, I call on the U of L as a community to continue to create meaningful changes. We need to have a voice at the table when it comes to policy changes and decision making.”
She added “we’re moving in that space where we can actually address EDI issues and I’m proud to see that. These actions demonstrate that we are making systemic changes in the areas of EDI. And as a Black woman, this is kind of a transformative and socially formed institution I want to be actively involved in.”

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