February is Black Brilliance Month at the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), though we strive to recognize Black Brilliance all year long. We aim to create an environment where African, Caribbean and Black-identifying (ACBi) students and staff see their brilliance highlighted, represented and celebrated.

Black Brilliance 2024: DIASPORA

At the Fall Black Brilliance Secondary Conference, we launched our 2023-2024 theme for the year: DIASPORA.

This theme was created based on what students told us. They challenged us to think beyond North American Black history to:

  • African World History
  • The global sense of representation

It reflects the needs identified by the students we serve:

  • “I want to learn about the different African cultures in our schools.”
  • “Seeing myself represented positively impacts my school experience.”

What is the African Diaspora?

The African Diaspora is unified through shared experiences of making home across the globe. The result of displacement and migration, African descendant peoples’ stories are written here, there and everywhere. The WRDSB’s African, Caribbean and Black identifying population represents a wide cross-section of cultures, ethnicities and identities.

From Jamaica to Ghana, the USA to Mauritania, Canada to Sudan, Africanness is here. We’re recognizing Black Brilliance across the diaspora in:

  • Classrooms
  • Hallways
  • Assemblies
  • Curricula

Celebrating Black Brilliance

Throughout Black Brilliance Month, we will:

  • Listen to student voices
  • Teach about and honour the African, Caribbean and Black Diaspora

February 12 to 16 is Black Brilliance Week

Black Brilliance Week runs from February 12 to 16. Students and families will have a variety of ways to take part, learn more and support this celebration of Black Brilliance:

February 16 is Black Brilliance Day

Started in 2022, Black Brilliance Day is held on the third Friday of every February in the WRDSB. This is a day to centre and celebrate Black joy, diversity and identity.

On this day, schools will support students in planning assemblies or events in collaboration with African, Caribbean and Black identifying (ACBi) students and staff. These will:

  • Honour Black Canadian identity
  • Provide learning opportunities for all students to improve their Black cultural history

Beats, Bars and Brilliance

Student members of Black Student Unions and Associations (BSU/A) have been invited to put their thoughts to rhythm ahead of Black Brilliance Week. We even made a custom DIASPORA beat to help ignite the inspiration. We look forward to sharing their musical submissions throughout Black Brilliance Week!

The Black Brilliance DIASPORA Beat was built by Khalil Derman, a Glenview Park Secondary School (GPSS) graduate currently studying at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU), and Jessie Wilkins-Flaricee, also a student at WLU.

Derman explained a bit about how the beat came to be: “In making this beat, we wanted to truly capture the theme of ‘Diaspora’ by using different aspects of Hip Hop, R&B, Afrobeats, and Dancehall,” said Derman. “We used a sample from Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Happening Brother’ as we felt that the song speaks on the Black experience as a whole; applicable to all of us, regardless of ethnicity or nationality. Enjoy!”

Hani – Black Brilliance Keynote Speaker

Hani, a student at Eastwood Collegiate Institute (ECI), is this year’s Black Brilliance Keynote Speaker. She serves as the Co-Prime Minister at ECI, in addition to being a hard-working student in the Integrated Arts Program. Hani is a committed academic, with the goal of attending university to study in the sciences. On top of all that, Hani is a talented wrestler who has competed at the OFSAA level.

Despite a schedule filled with academic, school leadership and athletic demands she still finds time to volunteer in the community. Certainly Hani’s hardwork has allowed her to generate a lot of individual success however she lives her life in the service of others. She knows what it means to persevere and as a result has an empathic approach to life that allows her to spend her energy and talents advocating for others.

Hani’s teachers celebrate her academic and athletic achievements:

“Hani is a student at ECI and is currently serving as a Co-Prime Minister of Eastwood. Hani is a OFSAA wrestler who excels academically, advocates for all and is a community leader with a bright future,” said Sara Jain, Biology Teacher.

“From Hani’s student council election speech: ‘She is her mom’s wildest dream’. Her mom was an immigrant to Canada, and now Hani won the honour of co-prime minister of our student council. She is a hard-working, engaging and caring student. She strives to build community and bring people in. She is a dedicated athlete and impactful leader in the school,” said Ivan Parkinson, Student Leadership Teacher. “Hani is a creative force who brings a passion for the arts, a strong and confident voice for herself and others; and overall a genuine and influential positive energy into every class.”

Join WRDSB in Celebrating Black Brilliance

You’re invited to join us in celebrating Black Brilliance this month, and all year long! Share your voice on social media using #WRDSBBlackBrilliance to join the conversation.

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