U of Guelph Launches New Black Canadian Studies Program

Black people in Canada – their histories, experiences, cultural identities and communities, and contemporary concerns in this country and around the world – are at the center of a new program at the University of Guelph.

The College of Arts ‘Minor Black Canadian Studies program, slated to launch in the fall of 2022, was born out of University of Toronto President Charlotte Yates’ anti-racism action plan.

“It is essential that the University of Guelph’s academic programming represents the diverse lived experiences and needs of the University community and the broader communities we serve,” said Yates. “I am grateful to the students, faculty and staff whose hard work and advocacy has resulted in an intersectional and interdisciplinary program that reflects the important histories, realities and futures of Black Canadian communities.”

Across Canada, university programs are being created and BIPOC professors (Blacks, Aboriginals and people of color) are added to change the landscape of post-secondary education in Canada, said Kimberly Francis, music teacher at the École des fine arts and music. and Director of Interdisciplinary Programs at the College of Arts, who co-chaired the program’s program committee.

It is one of two programs in Canada focused on studying the experience of black Canadians, Francis said. It includes professors in disciplines ranging from literature, language, history, sociology and anthropology to political science, psychology and music, giving students the opportunity to develop an interdisciplinary field of study. of the black experience.

“This program is very much in response to contemporary circumstances and the growing interest in the black experience,” Francis said.

“It is also part of the university’s renewed commitment to speak about the student experience of BIPOC and in particular anti-black racism. It really was born out of those times in the post-secondary sector.

The creation of the Minor in Black Canadian Studies was led by Jade Ferguson, Professor of English at the School of English and Theater Studies, in collaboration with the Guelph Black Students Association (GBSA).

“The program was guided by Jade’s vision,” said Francis.

Ferguson championed the idea, convened the committee, and played a pivotal role in designing the curriculum for this program.

“The new Black Canadian Studies program will introduce students to culturally rich and vibrant communities in Black Canada and beyond,” Ferguson said. “The multidisciplinary program offers a wide range of courses, including community-based and experiential learning opportunities with the Guelph Black Heritage Society, courses focusing on the past, present and future of life. blacks in Guelph and beyond.

Ferguson said the history of Guelph as the terminus of the Underground Railroad “sets the stage for reflection not only on how local histories, political forces and others shape the daily lives of black diasporic communities, but also on how these communities are shaped by transnational connections and global circulations.

GBSA President Angel Culmer said the minor is an important addition to U of G academic offerings “because it helps relay the largely unknown history of the black community in Canada.”

“A lot of people don’t know about this aspect of the story, many of whom are part of the community themselves. Thus, this new program would give them the opportunity to know their history; something that is essential in establishing self identity.

Culmer hopes that for non-Black Canadians participating in the program, it will provide an alternative to the “whitewashed” history books.

Among other topics, the program will cover creative expressions and literature, political and labor movements, and issues of language, law, immigration and health.

Dorothy Odartey-Wellington, a professor of Hispanic studies at the School of Languages ​​and Literatures who served on the program committee, said the program will not only focus on thought, cultures, stories and creative expression. Black people in general, but also how these areas relate to Canada. More precisely.

“The program recognizes centuries of black presence in Canada and its contributions to Canadian society and knowledge,” said Odartey-Wellington.

“Black Studies at the University of Guelph responds to the need for programs that reflect and reflect the diversity in our country and in our research and learning environments. “

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