• By: Kat Walcott

Ottawa to Celebrate Black History with Film, Music and More

Today marks the beginning of Black History Month and the Nation's Capital is hosting a variety of different cultural events to recognize and celebrate this important month. With the UN declaring 2015 to 2024 “The International Decade for People of African Descent,” these events not only reflect on past events and heroes, but look towards the future as well, putting the spotlight on young Black-Canadians who are making great impact in advocacy, business, art and more.

The Barbers: An Ottawa Family (Feb. 1st, 7 PM – Ottawa Public Library, Main Branch)

This presentation by award-winning historian Thomas Barber will recount the history of his family, one of the first black families to settle in Ottawa. His grandfather Paul Barber was born a slave in Kentucky, but later became a highly skilled horse trainer and horse racer and re-located to Ottawa. If you have an interest in the history of the city and want some insight on this amazing family that has contributed so much to the city over generations, this is an event for you.

Sankofa Night Market (Feb. 3rd, 5 PM – The Cultural Arts Studio, School Of Afro-Caribbean Dance)

The Cultural Arts Studio, a branch of the School of Afro-Carribean Dance, will be hosting the Sankofa Night Market–an evening to celebrate and support black business, art and craftsmanship. Local black entrepreneurs will be selling various goodies such as food, jewelry, clothing, art work and more. This is a great opportunity to support up and coming entrepreneurs and find some unique and beautiful goods.

“From Old to New African Diasporas: The multiple difficulties of untangling displacements and identities” (Feb. 9th, 6:30 PM – Patterson Hall, Carleton University)

 York University’s Professor Pablo Idahosa will be visiting Carleton to deliver a lecture about the complexities of the Black Diaspora. As a group who have been displaced so much throughout history because of the slave trade, colonialism, segregation and more, how has this affected black identities? Professor Idahosa will delve into this topic in what is sure to be a fascinating presentation.

The Gift of Jazz / From Africa to New Orleans to The True North Strong and Free (Feb. 15th, 6 PM – National Gallery of Canada Theatre)

If you love jazz, you will not want to miss “The Gift of Jazz,” a musical event chronicling the history of the genre, from its roots in Africa to its modern day form. The concert features Jazz vocalists Deborah Davis, Stefan Keyes, Michael C. Hanna and world championship-winning tap dancer Darin Kyle. Taking place in the stunning National Gallery of Canada, this is a show you won’t want to miss.

Gospel Concert: “His Light Still Shines” – A medley in honour of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Feb. 17th, 6:30 PM – Ottawa Seventh Day Adventist Church)

The Ottawa Seventh Day Adventist Church will be hosting a gospel concert in honour of African-American hero Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Entitled “His Light Still Shines,” the show promises to deliver a spiritual and soulful dedication to one of the greatest heroes in human history and ensure his legacy is never forgotten.

Documentary Screenings: “Simply the Best” and “Welcome to Dresden” (Feb. 28th, 6:30 PM – Ottawa Public Library, Greenboro Branch)

To wrap up the month, the Ottawa Public Library will be hosting an evening of documentary screening. Two documentaries will be shown – Simply the Best, about the life of Canada’s first black deputy minister and high commissioner Cal Best, and Welcome to Dresden, about the rampant Jim Crow racism in Dresden, Ontario during the 1940s and 50s. The screenings will be followed up by a discussion with Arthur Carkner, the producer of Simply the Best, and Sarah Onyango of Black History Ottawa.