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Of Rabbits, Learning and Commemorating

February 1947 frontpage of the Clarion newspaper

Photo: The cover of The Clarion, Nova Scotia's first black newspaper.

A lot of the children’s stories I read and heard growing up in Zimbabwe all crowned one animal as the wisest among its peers. No it wasn’t owl; it was the rabbit.

Mr Rabbit was the wisest animal (cunning too, but that’s a story for another day) because he listened and absorbed everything around him. If he were to write a resume, he would describe himself as a lifelong learner.

Black History Month for me is an opportunity to call your inner Mr. Rabbit,  listen and learn about Canada’s Black history. It is a moment to reflect on the gory and wonderful aspects of Canadian history, heal and help chart a new course for the nation.

There is a tendency to laser-focus on black American history to the exclusion of black Canadian history. There too, is a tendency, to treat Canada’s black history as a single story. Canada’s black communities are diverse and the stories are onion-layered, deep and complex, old and new.

Black History Month is also an an opportunity to reflect on the present -- celebrate the achievements and journeys, and push the community forward and higher.

The most common non-question I hear is “Can I mark or celebrate Black History Month if I’m not black?” Yes. I mean YES! There are probably tonnes of events in your city, take a moment to absorb everything around you. Connect with someone from the community. Ask questions. Reflect. Then ask questions again.

Go ahead be Mr. Rabbit.