July 16th, 2024

U of L celebrating contributions of Black communities across Canada

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on February 2, 2023.

Herald photo by Ry Clarke Maleeka Thomas (ULSU International Rep) speaks to audience members about the importance of Black History Month, and the inclusion of all voices of colour in Canada, Wednesday at the University of Lethbridge.

Black History Month kicked off Wednesday with Canadians recognizing contributions made by Black communities across the country.

The University of Lethbridge hosted an opening assembly Wednesday spreading awareness of its theme for the month, “Building a Culture of Authentic Black Inclusion: Moving from resistance to change.” The theme celebrates inclusion and resiliency by paying tribute to the work and determination the community has done towards inclusion and diversity.

“Black History Month this year is underneath the theme of creating an authentic culture of Black inclusion. We want to make sure that our students, no matter their experiences or their stories, feel represented on our campus,” said Martha Mathurin-Moe, vice provost, of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

“Its not only about talking about their stories, but actually creating a safe space of celebration for diverse identities.”

Creating a safe space is important for the university which notes the increase in international students coming to Lethbridge.

“This year we have the highest number of international students on our campus,” said Mathurin-Moe. “Our campus is becoming a very diverse mosaic. I think for us, it is about celebrating that diversity as well. It is an opportunity for students to know that there is a space here for them.”

Audience members heard from ULSU International representative Maleeka Thomas who talked about the hardships people of colour undergo and the importance of their achievements.

“Creating my speech, I wanted to let the wider Lethbridge community recognize Black History Month, recognize that we are here as a people, and that despite all the hardships that we endure and go through, we still have excellent achievements,” said Thomas.

The university hopes its message echoes through the community, sparking change towards inclusion for all.

“I hope it goes across the city, across the community, and into the broader community of Canada,” said Mathurin-Moe. “Canada has a rich history. We have a history of our Indigenous people, but we also have a history that our Black Canadians have contributed to making.”

Those looking to learn more about this year’s Black History Month at the U of L can check out its website at ulethbridge.ca/equity-diversity-inclusion/black-history-month. Along with a list of events happening throughout the month, the U of L bookstore will be selling Black History Month T-shirts with proceeds going towards the University of Lethbridge’s Black Student Association.

“For us, it is about celebrating the diversity of identities on campus,” said Mathurin-Moe. “But also creating a space for them […] because this is really important to our students. They are part of our story and they need a space to share that as well.”

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