Black History Month at Richview

By Diya Saha

February as we all know represents Black History Month. This year due to unforeseen circumstances combined with the pandemic, Richview’s Black History Every Day plus club, unfortunately, didn’t have an assembly that we all looked forward to having. Nevertheless, they certainly made up for it by reminding the school in every way about the importance of Black History Month.

February started off with members of the BHED+ club making different announcements about Black History Month every morning.  Pitched by Sarran Nabay and Zulleka Mohamed, the main point of the announcements was to inform and educate Richvew’s student body about a variety of things like achievements and the injustices black people regularly face. Tumi Ohwotsa and Charliana Da Costa, the main announcers, as well as other members of the BHED+ club spoke about the different styles of music and dance, and regularly provided informative facts about prominent black historical figures and culture. They also incorporated different and fun skits; these announcements went on for all of February and I sure learned a lot!

Next, on the dates of February 15 & 16, the members of the BHED+ club hosted a “Learn Curls” workshop during lunch. It took place in room 215 hosted by Tumi Ohwotsa with the help of Ms.McDonagh-Vella and Ms. Manitaros. This workshop’s goal was to teach students how to style and take care of their hair by introducing a variety of different hairstyles. 

In the workshop, there were cosmetology mannequin heads, commonly known as hair or head mannequins placed on tables. Throughout the workshop participants learned how to make different hairstyles such as single braids, cornrows, crochet, feed-ins, butterfly locks, and more on the mannequins. It was amazing to see how talented these girls are when creating their proper hairstyles!

While talking to Tumi, the event organizer of this workshop, she shared with me that

“Many girls don’t really know how to handle their hair and so this workshop is a way for them to gain their confidence, learn about their hair and different hairstyles. This workshop is also a place to bond with others that are similar to them and most importantly to have fun.”

Celia Suarez, another member of the BHED+ club gave me a rundown on the significance of hair and why it’s important to embrace it. She said that the hair of African Americans signifies a major part of their culture. Specific hairstyles were once used to differentiate African tribes, but now is a way for black people to connect with their roots and embrace their culture. She also stated that many young black girls are bullied or insecure about their “different hair,” but it is truly a feature unique to them that should be embraced and taught about. An example that Celia gave is that many black girls straighten their hair to look like the “others” resulting in hair damage, further lowering their confidence. She emphasized that it is important to take care of your hair and to embrace and love it.

All in all, the workshop was a huge hit with so many students participating in it during the two days that it ran. It was wonderful to see everyone bonding, interacting, and just having fun together. A couple of teachers and Ms. Kletke, Richview’s principal even stopped by to take part in the workshop. I learned that it is really important to embrace yourself as a whole no matter what society says, even though it can be difficult. There will always be like-minded people who you can get support from and lean on and this workshop displayed a wonderful representation of such.

During the shortened week of February 22 to the 25th, the BHED+ club collaborated with the Asian Heritage club to bring the school spirit week. There was lucky colour day, Soul Train day, Decade day, and finally, Culture day which was a huge hit! Culture day was especially a knock-out with so many students proudly representing their cultures. All throughout the day, students with their cultural clothing could easily be spotted at Richview. It was amazing to see just how many people partook in this event and showed school spirit.

Then, later on in the afternoon of culture day, an assembly featuring guest speaker Duane Gibson. Duane “D.O (defy the odds)” Gibson gave a quick introduction about himself and his dreams. He then went on to address important topics such as using the N-word, the effects of social media, and the importance of limiting cell phone usage. In addition to addressing those important topics, Duane also spoke about having an outlet and why it is beneficial to have one. He stated that having an outlet

  1. would take your mind off of the real world 
  2. help you you focus on one thing
  3. and is just healthy

He then addressed his role model and encouraged teachers to use the chat and put in their student’s role models. After that, Duane talked about the one-hit-wonder commonly known as a viral video and then ended the assembly off with a fun and interactive rap where words given by the audience were used. The assembly was enlightening, attention-grabbing and most of all very informative. 

Finally on Monday towards the end of the day, the BHED+ club created a short dance video that was shown to individual classes. The members put together a beautiful choreography showcasing their cultural diversity.  

As Friday wrapped up, it signalled the end of February and Black History Month. It is of the utmost importance that we learn from and embrace every type of culture. This year’s Black History month was not the typical month but still had its own distinctive and creative twist to it.