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New West to celebrate Black History Month with arts, music and education

February is Black History Month
Black History Month
An NWSS student art project featured prominent Black figures from Canadian history and contemporary society. It's featured in this year's Black History Month events in New West.

Art, entertainment and education are among the offerings in New West for Black History Month.

The City of New Westminster is proclaiming February as Black History Month. This year’s theme is February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day.

A proclamation for the city states that New Westminster has been home to members of the Black community since before incorporation, and pioneers of New Westminster’s Black community include Thomas Henry Forester, Elizabeth Forester, Antonio Hernandez, John Hernandez, John Sullivan Deas, Owen Wormley Brown and Terese Berra-Berra, who were respected members of the city’s business community and social life.

Here are some of the activities planned for New Westminster in celebration of Black History Month.

Celebrating Black History in Canada Through Tessellation and Portraiture will run from Feb. 2 to June 19 at the New Westminster Museum in Anvil Centre. Community members can book their free, timed entry to view the exhibition at www.booking.nwmuseumarchive.ca/ or call 604-527-4640.

“Moved by a push for greater social justice, NWSS art students researched prominent figures from Black history in Canada and share their contributions in black and white tessellation patterns and portraits,” said a statement about the exhibition. “Equal parts ‘black’ and ‘white’ in these works challenges a Eurocentric-lens that is too often applied when discussing history by featuring People of Colour (POC) and Black Canadians in an equally starring role. Each student provides a thoughtful artist statement with their portrait.”

Throughout the month, the city’s youth services department will be connecting with youth about Black History Month through social media, its website (newwestyouth.ca) and drop-in programs. Profiles of staff and influential Canadians, activities, discussion, and information sharing are among the month’s offerings.

On Thursday, Feb. 17, community members are invited to drop by Sapperton Plaza from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. to Thursday Tunes featuring local musicians. It runs rain or shine, so people are advised to dress for the weather.

“Bring your own chair, blankets, beverages and snacks and take in the sounds,” said a notice about the event.  “Thursday Tunes will feature Sam Chimes, an Afro-Canadian jazzy hip hop music artist. He is an international street performer, producer, and DJ who has ventured around the world twice, supported by his music. He continues to share his undying message: 'Live your dream, don't back down'.

This month’s Last Monday at the Movies features The Last Black Man in San Francisco. Presented by the Arts Council of New Westminster, it take places on Monday, Feb. 28 at the Anvil Centre Theatre (doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the film begins at 7 p.m.)

“The plot centers around the efforts of a young black man to reclaim his childhood home, a now-expensive Victorian house,” said a notice about the event. “The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019 where it won awards for Best Directing and a Special Jury Prize for Creative Collaboration.”

Tickets are $9 and can be purchased in advance www.ticketsnw.ca. Tickets (cash only) are available at the door.

The New Westminster Public Library has prepared some Black History Month reading lists for adults and children who would like to educate themselves or their family on topics about Black history and conversations about race. You can find it on the city’s website at www.newwestcity.ca.

Last year, Rachel Matembe, a member of the city’s multiculturalism advisory committee, requested that the committee take a more active role in recognizing and promoting Black History Month. City council approved a recommendation from the committee directing staff to create a working group to explore various ways to recognize and promote Black History Month.

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus
Email tmcmanus@newwestrecord.ca