More universities to begin offering programs in Black Canadian studies

As universities across the country work to address anti-Black racism and promote Black inclusion, many are now offering programs and courses in Black Canadian studies. Erica Natividad with why students say this has been a long time coming.

By Erica Natividad

As universities across the country work to tackle anti-Black racism and promote inclusion within their walls, many are now offering programs and courses in Black Canadian Studies. It’s something Black students and scholars have been fighting for for years, but renewed calls for racial justice around the world have spurred the institutions into action.

While York University and the University of Toronto are now offering courses and certificates in the field, the University of Guelph is launching a minor program in Black Canadian Studies next fall. Until this most recent push, Dalhousie University seemed to be the only one in the country offering an entire program dedicated to this area of study and its minor program only began five years ago.

“Over the years, histories and the way books have been written have been shaped by various people’s lenses and so this is opening up that lens,” said Associate Vice President of Diversity and Human Rights at University of Guelph, Indira Naidoo-Harris. “The new Canadian Black Studies program is about Black people in Canada – their histories, experiences, cultural identities, communities and concerns.”

The program will bring in faculty from a wide range of disciplines including political science, literature, music, and history. Its creation was led by U of G English professor, Jade Ferguson, in collaboration with the Guelph Black Students Association (GBSA).

“It’s hard to see your face and to hear your history in a predominantly white university,” said GBSA president, Angel Culmer. “We were just looking for more of us — more representation, more background, more history and they definitely delivered.”

Last week, Guelph was one of more than 40 post-secondary institutions in the country to sign the “Scarborough Charter” pledging to fight anti-Black racism within the institution.

The Black Canadian Studies minor at the University of Guelph is slated to commence in the Fall of 2022.

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