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This Friday and Saturday, Jan. 14 and 15, the district celebrates Black Shirt Day and Black Excellence Day, encouraging education and dialogue on the history of racism and civil rights in Canada, and celebrating Black history, stories, art and people in solidarity with Black Canadians.
Started last year by the Anti-Racism Coalition (ARC) Vancouver, the inaugural Black Shirt Day drew tremendous support from our students and staff and citizens provincewide, taking the day to promote racial inclusivity and recognize inequality. This year, the district is proud to support both Black Shirt Day and Black Excellence Day, the latter inspired by the former.
Following last year's event, the Ninandotoo Anti-Racism Society – a Vancouver-based charitable organization named after the Swahili word "nina ndoto" meaning "I have a dream" – consulted with members of various Jewish and human rights community groups who voiced concerns over the words "black shirt" in relation to traumatic experiences of Holocaust survivors. In response, the society established Black Excellence Day to be inclusive while continuing to acknowledge the ongoing civil rights struggle of Black and racialized Canadians.
Jan. 14, 2022 has now been been officially proclaimed as Black Excellence Day by the provincial government.
Both movements take place Jan. 15, coinciding with the birthday of American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. However, if Jan. 15 falls on a weekend, as it does this year, Black Excellence Day is celebrated on the preceding Friday. The day, itself, is also a chance to show solidarity by wearing black.
This Friday, the Ninandotoo Anti-Racism Society and the Burnaby School District are hosting a virtual event from 10-11:30 a.m., featuring discussions on the contributions of Black Canadians and their ongoing civil rights struggle. Guest speakers include:
Students from more than 30 schools in the Surrey School District are taking part in the virtual event.
Events such as these are powerful opportunities to learn, promote inclusivity, acceptance and equity in our schools and communities.