For Deena Hassan and Grace Grant, Black History Month may be a time to acknowledge Black culture and the important figures that have contributed to our society, but it’s also important to recognize that these conversations should be happening year-round.
“Quite honestly, that should be standard beyond the month of February,” said Grant.
This past year, a more concerted effort has been put into sharing stories from Black voices. Included in this movement are members of the Algonquin College community, such as Hassan, Grant and many others.
Hassan and Grant are both in their second year of the collaborative bachelor of science in nursing program. They are also both leaders of the Black, Indigenous and People of Colour club at the college.
“This club aims to foster inclusion and diversity,” said Hassan.
They both started the club in January 2021 with the intention to create a safe space for BIPOC students on campus so they could be comfortable enough to share their stories.
“Usually, anytime Black or people of colour are brought up, it’s usually in this ‘surviving racism’ narrative and that can be mentally exhausting, so this is just a space where it doesn’t always have to be about that,” said Hassan.
Celebrating Black History Month is about more than reliving the past — it’s a time to also celebrate the present.
Sharing the stories of Black people doing great things is an idea that Shane Brady, a first-year office administration student at Algonquin College, agrees with.
“I always tell people, there’s no hegemony, there’s no one thought of Black excellence and what we want to do,” said Brady.
This month for Brady is about more than just celebrating the month. He takes this as an opportunity to continue to educate himself.
“I believe that Black History Month has kind of served a certain purpose, but I believe that Black History Month as a whole should be taught and brought up throughout the year,” said Brady.
Brady is an active member in his program — he was elected to the position of class rep as a liaison between the class and the program coordinator. He participates in student rep meetings where addresses students concerns, comments and general questions.
He’s also active in the city spending his free time doing volunteer work for Shepherds of Good Hope where he hosts game nights on Wednesdays.
“It’s one thing I always tell people,” said Brady. “I get you have your life ambitions and stuff, but it’s cool to like be involved in your community.”
Brady also has a podcast with his friends called The Not So Chivalrous Podcast. The podcast host discusses topics like integrating Black people into society, the police system and how he sees things in the world as a Black man.
He knows some people won’t agree with his thoughts, but Brady finds that if we’re able to lead these conversations as Black people and as people of colour, then we can have a lot more of an influence on how things look moving forward past just the month of February.