EMSB schools were very active during Black History Month
The English Montreal School Board marked Black History Month with a wide array of activities across its network.
|Svens Telemaque in studio at LHA.|
At LaurenHill Academy in St. Laurent., speaker Svens Telemaque visited the Senior and Junior campuses on the theme Black Is His Story, Her Story, Our Story on Feb. 2 and 3 respectively.
After schoolwide assemblies for both Junior and Senior campuses, organized by Spiritual and Community Animator Jessica Wilson, special guest Mr. Telemaque went live on air with the students on the LaurenHill radio station The Voice to talk about challenges he faced during his youth, moving to Montreal, working with youth, being a motivational speaker, and what activism means to him.
|Fatima Wilson, seen here at Honoré-Mercier.|
Fatima Wilson and The Steel Pans visited five elementary schools
- Gerald McShane Elementary in Montreal North, Feb. 2
- Dante Elementary in St. Léonard Feb. 6
- Honoré Mercier Elementary in St. Léonard Feb. 22
- Dalkeith Elementary in Anjou Feb. 24
- Leonard Da Vinci Academy in RDP Feb. 27
|Cody Coyote speaks to OLP students.|
Forgotten Black Communities
Tracking Black Canada
On Feb. 8 at Vincent Massey Collegiate in Rosemount, Overture with the Arts presented “Tracking Black Canada.” Spiritual Community Animator Veronica D’Agata also created two very short online Kahoot that was played during homeroom period (only six minutes) on Feb. 22.
Gumboots Dance Assembly & Workshop
|Gumboots at Edinburgh.|
On Feb. 15 and 22, SCA Jagdeep Trehin made presentations to Grades 4 to 6 classes and explored the lives and legacies of several Black Canadians. Amongst many Canadians, the presentations focused on the story of Viola Desmond.
As a closing for Black History Month, Edinburgh’s Cycle 3 classes participate in a presentation to celebrate and honor Black culture BEYOND February with Overture with the Arts (OWTA)! Overture with the Arts (OWTA) is a non-profit organization based in Montreal, offering education in music, dance, drama, and vocal training. This presentation takes students around the country, while focusing on the often-forgotten histories of early Black communities in Canada. Using OWTA’s trademark edutainment style that combines video, slam poetry, stand-up comedy, and audience participation/interaction, "Tracking Black Canada'' highlights the contributions and achievements made by prominent residents in these forgotten communities.
My Soca Birthday Party: With Jollof Rice and Steel Pans
My Soca Birthday Part, with Jollof Rice and Steel Pans, took place Feb. 9 at St. Monica Elementary School in NDG with Jollof Rice at Lunch.
- Willingdon in NDG, Feb. 8. Watch TV report.
- Lester B. Pearson High School in Montreal North, Feb. 10
- East Hill Elementary School in RDP, Feb. 14
- FACE School downtown, Feb. 15
- Edinburgh Elementary in Montreal West, Feb. 22
- Gardenview Elementary in St. Laurent, Feb. 23
- Gerald McShane Elementary in Montreal North, Feb. 27
- Roslyn Elementary in Westmount, virtually, Feb. 28 and
- Marymount Academy International in NDG, March 1
Canadian and American History
On Feb. 13, Grades 3 and 6 students at Nesbitt had a one-hour session with Linton Gardner on Canadian and American History
Steel Pan Band
At Cedarcrest Elementary School in St. Laurent, a Steel Pan Band performed on Feb. 17.
Royal Vale School in NDG had multiple events during the month, geared toward students in Kindergarten to Grade 11.
- Some highlights included former professional basketball player Dwight Walton on Feb. 20
- A panel on Black Excellence, featuring successful Royal graduates on Feb. 21
- Black Theatre Workshop’s presentation of the play Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers on Feb. 23
- and a performance by Gumboots Dance Troupe on Feb. 24
|Special guests join RHS staff and students after their event.|
Rosemount High School was proud to host their lineup for its annual Black History Month Celebration, featuring a dynamic group of performers and speakers. The event took place on February 22 and was kicked off with a spectacular dance performance by over 25 EMSB students from L’Academie de Dance de Montreal. The audience was captivated by the energy and grace of these talented dancers as they showcased their skills on stage. Motivational speaker, model, and founder of The Rising Agency Aiesha Robinson was in attendance. She is a dynamic leader in the world of business and modeling, using her platform to empower and uplift marginalized communities. Justin Jackson, Canadian tap-dancing champion, trained with Canadian legend Ethel Bruneau for 11 years and won nine Canadian Tap-dancing championships. He has also guest starred on popular shows such as So You Think You Can Dance Canada and The Wendy Williams Talk Show. Dwight Walton, a Canadian Olympic basketball player who played in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, was the final guest speaker. A trailblazer in the sports world, he passed on his message of togetherness, awareness and respect for all students. They also hadthe pleasure of featuring a gospel choir filled the room with powerful and uplifting music, that closed off this uplifting celebration. Everyone was left with goosebumps and a lot to think about. "This event was not to be missed as we all came together to celebrate the contributions of Black people in our society and to recognize the achievements of these accomplished and inspiring individuals," said Principal Lino Buttino.
A Storybook with Ms. D’Agata
At John Caboto Academy in Ahuntsic, Michelangelo International Elementary in RDP and Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Ms. D’Agata chose a storybook about a key figure in Black History.
At Royal West Academy in Montreal West, some RWA students highlighted Black History Month through reflection with weekly mindful moments. Messages and quotes appeared in the school bulletin. A book display team created colorful and vibrant displays for students. highlighting several cultures and holidays this school year. This February an assortment of artifacts, art, and of course books were on display on the second floor highlighting Black History Month - authors, culture and traditions.
During lunch on February 6, RWA students kickstarted Black History Month with an upbeat presentation from an RWA Alumni and Fatima Wilson's Steel Pan specialists. The band shared some creative musical pieces with a Caribbean vibe. Students and staff had an opportunity to explore the culture, traditions and of course enjoy the lovely music during their lunch!
RWA’s book display team Ms. Germain (librarian) and Ms. Trehin(SCA) have been creating colorful and vibrant displays for our students. highlighting several cultures and holidays this school year. The February display features an assortment of artifacts, art, and of course books on the second floor highlighting Black History Month - authors, culture and traditions.
As a closing for Black History Month, all classes participate in a presentation to celebrate and honor Black culture with Overture with the Arts (OWTA), a non-profit organization based in Montreal, offering education in music, dance, drama, and vocal training. This presentation takes students around the country, while focusing on the often-forgotten histories of early Black communities in Canada. Using OWTA’s trademark edutainment style that combines video, slam poetry, stand-up comedy, and audience participation/interaction, "Tracking Black Canada'' highlights the contributions and achievements made by prominent residents in these forgotten communities, illuminate the conditions that led to their systemic demise, and highlight how their impact is still felt today.
ABC's of Black History
For each day in February, John F. Kennedy High School in St. Michel spotlighted a figure from the ABC’s of Black History with morning announcements and offer activities such as a QR-code Scavenger Hunt, Caribbean style cafeteria day, free Jamaican patties for everyone one day and classroom activities by teachers utilizing the ABC kit.
Gardenview Elementary School in St. Laurent welcomed Shanice Nicole to read her book Dear Black Girls to Grade 2 students.
At Roslyn Elementary School in Westmount, Roen Higgins presented her Know Your Roots Tour: Interactive Storytelling Black History Month.
At Our Lady of Pompei Elementary School in Ahuntsic, Overture with Arts featured their Tracking Black Canada presentation.
At Westmount Park Elementary School, activities included door decorating, a scavenger hunt, steel pan band and West Can folk dance.
At Nesbitt Elementary in Rosemount and Pierre de Coubertin in St. Léonard, a portable museum was created in the libraries. Students from Rosemount High School, alongside Spiritual Community Animator Vince Lacroce, oversaw the programming, followed by the Wall of Heroes trivia game. This is a fun and interactive way to learn about the contributions and accomplishments of black individuals throughout history. The game is designed to be played on a smart board highlighting topics such as the Underground Railroad, The Civil Rights Movement, and World Events. Players can test their knowledge by answering questions about the heroes and their contributions to society. The game is an engaging and effective way to educate people about the importance of Black History Month and the contributions of black individuals throughout history.
|Shanice Nicole gets the attention of students.|
A series of programs were held atCoronation Elementary School for Black History Month. First, the students received a visit from local author Shanice Nicole, who read her book, Dear Black Girls. Spiritual and Community Animator Puynung Choy noted how much the students enjoyed the reading, and that one student enjoyed the book so much, he requested that Shanice write another book about Black boys and girls! In addition to the reading, students also received a visit and mini cooking class from Sue Hamilton, owner of Végé-Tropicale, a new vegan Caribbean catering company, who offered a “Taste of Jamaica” with her vegan patties. Ms. Hamilton also shared about the importance of hair in the Black community, and various nuggets of information about Jamaican culture through food, music, art and history.
As one of their activities to celebrate Black History Month, Dunrae Gardens hosted Michael Farkas - originally from New Brunswick, raised in Mount St. Hilaire and a current resident of Montreal – who gave a historical presentation to Grade 5 & 6 students. A wealth of information, he covered much ground from porters of Canada to slavery - where he emphasized different events that influenced or normalized one's perceptions of Blacks. "The perception of others," said Spiritual and Community Animator Puynung Choy, is what we need to reflect on and rework, and what influences how we treat others. Follow-up classes will continue to address and expand on this theme over the next four weeks, as part of a larger anti-bullying program.
Two EMSB staff have been chosen as CBC Black Changemakers for 2023. Like many teachers, Tina Oppong puts 110 percent into her job. But hers is no regular classroom. Ms. Oppong only has a handful of students of different ages and in different grades, and most of them are only with her for one academic year. Oppong is the head teacher of the day program at the Jewish General Hospital's Sir Mortimer B. Davis child psychiatry department. It is a program that is unique in Canada, where children with mental health or behavioral issues get intensive help, including their own lesson plan, created in conjunction with a team of experts. Her students have often struggled in a traditional school setting. Many have already been in and out of foster care and group homes. She said the job requires her to be nimble: part teacher, part social worker, ready to adapt to each student's needs. "It is absolutely soul-wrenching," said the EMSB teacher Oppong, "and you put in your sweat, blood and tears." But she says there's nowhere she'd rather be. You can read her entire inspiring story here.
Also being recognized this month as a Black Changemaker was Kathy Roach, a community worker at St. Raphael Elementary School for children with behavioral difficulties. Through her workshops, Ms. Roach has inspired hundreds of Montreal teens from all walks of life to believe in themselves and give back to their community.
About the English Montreal School Board
With a youth and adult sector population of more than 35,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines, the EMSB network consists of 73 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at www.emsb.qc.ca.
Michael J. Cohen
Manager, Marketing and Communications
English Montreal School Board