February 11th, 2022 Orangeville Banner

Black History Month panel at the Museum of Dufferin examines heroes of the past, present and future

Celebrating Black history isn’t just about Canada’s past, it’s also about celebrating the history right here within Dufferin County — and the forward momentum residents continue to have in the area.

“People sometimes think there isn’t a lot of history here,” explained Nanci Malek, events and marketing co-ordinator at the Museum of Dufferin. “Well, there certainly is, and we have a vibrant community right now that’s going to grow in the future.”

This year, the museum will host another panel in celebration of Black History Month, in partnership with the Dufferin County Canadian Black Association (DCCBA). The event — called Black Heroes Past, Present and Future — will feature numerous panellists from around the county.

“The fact we’re now able to showcase the rich history of Dufferin County, I think, is a testament to just how far we’ve come,” said Alethia O’Hara-Stephenson, president and founder of the DCCBA. “We have a rich history that goes as far back as the 1800s.”

The group of panellists will include:

• Dan Hill — Grammy Award-winning artist and author, who will read from his book “I Am My Father's Son: A Memoir of Love and Forgiveness.”

• Maestro Fresh Wes — godfather of Canadian hip hop and author.

• Steve Anderson — deputy mayor of Shelburne.

• Philip DeWar — community leader and owner of Soulyve Incorporated.

• Danielle Bryan, Ashanti Brooks and Tyra Harris — Black Chapter youth group, Centre Dufferin District High School

“There are some amazing young people from Centre Dufferin District High School’s Black Chapter,” said O’Hara-Stephenson. “They are doing amazing work, and they’re sharing their voice and using their colour to share their message of inclusion. I’m proud to have them as part of this event.”

Panellists will talk about the community celebrating Black heroes of the past through the stories featured in the Dufferin museum’s main exhibit, “Through the Looking Glass.”

“This is a learning opportunity for our community and for us to understand how we can go forward in the future, and what we can do to support our communities that are in Dufferin County,” said Malek. “We are so diverse, and I don’t think people realize how diverse we are.”

Malek added this is a wonderful opportunity for the museum and DCCBA to have an important conversation with community leaders on how the area’s Black community has evolved over the years.

“I think, sometimes, it can be really difficult for people to find the resources to educate themselves on this, so we’re handing it to them,” said Malek.

The panel will be a virtual event held on Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. and will be livestreamed on YouTube at www.youtube.com/DufferinOne.

Members of the community interested in asking questions for the Q-and-A portion of the event are asked to submit them in advance to info@dufferinmuseum.com.

Anderson and O'Hara-Stephenson will also be moderating a session at the Orangeville Public Library on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. Black Authors Black Voices will celebrate local Black authors, giving the floor to four featured Dufferin authors. More information is available on the OPL's website.

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