Press Releases


EMSB CELEBRATES BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Repercussion Theatre

MONTREAL, MARCH 1, 2011Throughout the month of February, schools across the English Montreal School Board held various activities in recognition of Black History Month. 

The following EMSB schools celebrated Black History Month on Wednesday, February 2nd:

  • Parkdale Elementary School in St. Laurent invited Jane Nyoike to speak to their students. Nyoike was born, raised and educated in Nairobi, Kenya. She spoke to students about African heritage and cultural festivals, bringing with her a beautiful collection of artifacts from Africa to share with the students. Nyoike has lived in Montreal with her husband since the year 2000 and owns and operates All African Fashion (www.allafricanfashion) a company which produces authentic African clothes and accessories.

The following EMSB schools celebrated Black History Month on Thursday, February 10th:

  • Royal West Academy in Montreal West welcomed Fergie Jenkins, a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Order of Canada. Speaking to Secondary IV students as well as special guests from James Lyng High School, the visit was organized in part by Canada Post, which recently introduced a stamp in his honour to coincide with Black History Month. The stamp features a photograph of a more mature Jenkins is overlapped by an image of him on the pitcher’s mound. Jenkins was born Ferguson Arthur Jenkins on December 13, 1942 in Chatham, Ontario. His pitching abilities brought him to the attention of the Philadelphia Phillies, who signed him in 1962. During his career, he also pitched for the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox. He holds the 12th highest strikeout total in major league history and is the only Canadian honoured in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. 

The following EMSB schools celebrated Black History Month on Friday, February 11th:

  • Royal Vale High School in N.D.G. marked Black History Month with a special presentation in the school’s auditorium on February 11. Popular Montreal jazz vocalist Ranee Lee highlighted the event with a mini concert with her jazz combo, in which she sang a repertoire of five songs that included works by Ella Fitzgerald, George Gershwin and Oscar Peterson. Ms. Lee, who is herself a musical education teacher at University of Laval and McGill University, imparted to the students some of her favourite pieces of wisdom from American writer Maya Angelou. The event also included performances by the school’s first-ever glee club, recitations of slam poetry and highlights from Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, and a personal reflection on Black History month by Royal Vale teacher Ms. Chalenfant.

The following EMSB schools celebrated Black History Month on Wednesday, February 16th:

  • Westmount High School participated in Black History Month Children’s day at McGill University.

The following EMSB schools celebrated Black History Month on Thursday, February 17th:

  • Sinclair Laird Elementary School in Park Extension celebrated Black History Month through Haitian song and dance. Performing for the students were two dancers and a drummer from the Mapou Ginen Group. Along with their dazzling and entertaining performance, they also invited both children and staff to take part in the specialized dance numbers which comprise traditional Haitian folklore. Accompanying the dancing was a variety of Haitian songs which the students learned and practiced prior to the event.
  • Cedarcrest Elementary School in St. Laurent invited Jane Nyoike to speak to their students. Nyoike was born, raised and educated in Nairobi, Kenya. She spoke to students about African heritage and cultural festivals, bringing with her a beautiful collection of artifacts from Africa to share with the students. Nyoike has lived in Montreal with her husband since the year 2000 and owns and operates All African Fashion (www.allafricanfashion) a company which produces authentic African clothes and accessories.
  • St. Raphael School in Ahuntsic welcomed the Steve Blackette Steppers. The Steppers are a dance troupe whose dances are inspired by the group’s African heritage. Steve Blackette and his group conducted a presentation delving into the history of the Black population through the traditional step stomp African dance.
  • Venture and Elizabeth High Schools in Ville Emard welcomed Captain Charles Déogratias who shared his inspiring story about growing up in a refugee camp in Tanzania. Though he was born in horrible circumstances, he persevered to find a way out of an otherwise grim future. Today, he is successful, happy, and a very proud Canadian. Captain Déogratias shared with the students that he will never forget his roots, and continue to spread his message of hope, self-respect, and the power of education.

The following EMSB schools celebrated Black History Month on Friday, February 18th:

  • Vincent Massey Collegiate in Rosemount welcomed Captain Joseph who most recently served in Haiti following the devastating earthquake of January 2010. He spoke to the students on the history of the Black population in the armed forces as well as his most recent experience in Haiti.
  • Coronation Elementary School in Côte des Neiges welcomed Warrant Officer Colin Bremner who gave a historical presentation about the Black people who served in the Canadian Military from as far back as 1812 until today. He also spoke about his own experience as an active member of the Canadian Forces and of his own origins. Other activities at Coronation Elementary School included the creation of a lovely bulletin board which used pictures of all the Cycle 2 students’ hands. The goal was to show that love comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors.

The following EMSB schools celebrated Black History Month on Monday, February 21st:

  • St. Brendan School in Rosemount welcomed the Steve Blackette Steppers. The Steppers are a dance troupe whose dances are inspired by the group’s African heritage. Steve Blackette and his group conducted a presentation delving into the history of the Black population through the traditional step stomp African dance.
  • St. Gabriel School in Pointe St. Charles welcomed Captain Joseph, who most recently served in Haiti following the devastating earthquake of January 2010. He will speak to the students on the history of the Black population in the armed forces as well as his most recent experience in Haiti.

The following EMSB schools celebrated Black History Month on Tuesday, February 22nd:

  • Gardenview Elementary School in St. Laurent celebrated with various presentations and guest speakers.
  • Vezina School in Pointe St. Charles and James Lyng High School in St. Henri both welcomed Captain Charles Déogratias shared his inspiring story about growing up in a refugee camp in Tanzania. Though he was born in horrible circumstances, he persevered to find a way out of an otherwise grim future. Today, he is successful, happy, and a very proud Canadian. Captain Déogratias shared with the students that he will never forget his roots, and continue to spread his message of hope, self-respect, and the power of education. Warrant Officer Colin Bremner also gave a historical presentation about the Black people who served in the Canadian Military from as far back as 1812 until today. He also spoke about his own experience as an active member of the Canadian Forces and of his own origins.

The following EMSB schools celebrated Black History Month on Friday, February 25th:

  • Rosemount High School celebrated Black History Month with a multicultural feast.
  • Laurier Macdonald High School in St. Leonard celebrated Black History Month by honoring the countless African Americans and Canadians who have made a difference in the struggle for equality amongst the races. Honoured guests included: Massimo Pacetti, Member of Parliament for St. Leonard; Reverend Darryl Gray, Pastor of Imani Church; Tyrone Benskin, Artistic Director of the Black Theatre Workshop; Roma Medwid, Deputy Director General, EMSB; Antonio Lacroce, Former Director General, EMSB;, Jake Sookhdeo, former teacher at Laurier Macdonald High School; Ryan Cox, Vice President of the Black Coalition of Quebec; Susan Christopher, Communications Agent National Defence and Canadian Forces Public Affairs; Lt. Navy Serge Tsoto, National Defence and Canadian Forces; Cpl. Annie Blanchette, National Defence and Canadian Forces; Officer Claire Levac, SPVM; and Annette Angers Cmdt. PDQ42. Students were treated to two wonderful musical performances by the Laurier Macdonald choir as well as by Reverend Darryl Gray. Before addressing students with his keynote speech, Tyrone Benskin also delved into his acting background and acted out a scene depicting the struggles of an African American slave. 
  • The students of St. Monica’s school in N.D.G. celebrated Black History Month with a special assembly in which all students viewed an animated version of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The assembly, planned by Mr. Joseph Monachino, Spiritual and Community Animator, allowed the students to better understand the life of Dr. King as well as his contributions to society and our world. Each student was left with a message of equality, and the knowledge that each one of us has the power to implement change.

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Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213
E-mail: mcohen@emsb.qc.ca