Ours to Tell: A Celebration of Black History

Photo: Praewthida K, https://unsplash.com/@pkvoyage

On Sunday, March 19, Black Anglicans of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land hosted “Ours to Tell: A Celebration of Black History” at Holy Trinity Church. The event marked the official inauguration of the Black Anglicans of Canada chapter for the Diocese of Rupert’s Land.

Special guests included Uzoma Asagwara (MLA, Union Station) and Jamie Moses (MLA, St. Vital) who both spoke at the event, as well as Nadia Thompson (chairperson for Black History Month, Manitoba), Segun Olude (Designer, Educator, Storycrafter, and Photography Enthusiast; Professor and Graphic Design Artist, University of Manitoba), and Dr. Zita Somakoko (President/CEO, Black- Manitobans Chamber of Commerce).

From event organizers:

In recent years, the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) has made some effort to address systemic racism, and to live out the baptismal commitment, “To strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.” At General Synod in 2007, the ACC proclaimed a Charter for Racial Justice which states: “We are called to be a church where people have the assurance that they will

be treated with dignity and respect where they will find a community free of racism.” Black History is also about celebrating and honoring the resilience, innovation, and determination to work towards an even more inclusive and diverse Canada. In December 1995, the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month in Canada, following a motion introduced by the Honourable Jean Augustine, the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament. Around the same time, there was an impetus to recognize and to celebrate Black Heritage within the Anglican Church of Canada. Since then, the Anglican Church of Canada committed to a Charter for Racial Justice in 2007, and in late 2020 the Diocese of Rupert’s Land established an Anti- Black Racism Committee.

Through prayerful, extensive discussion, this Committee identified recommendations for consideration by the Bishop, including a recommendation to institute written policies, practices, and procedures (e.g., through Diocesan Council, Executive Council, Synod, etc.) which account for and promote diversity within the Diocese of Rupert’s Land. Specifically, the Committee noted that systemic racism and other forms of discrimination in the Diocese of Rupert’s Land may limit representation of, participation of, and leadership by marginalized persons within Diocesan-level governance and decision making bodies. As such, the Committee agreed that a resolution be raised at Synod in 2022 to call upon the Diocese to dedicate time and resources to increasing diversity and improving inclusion and equity in its governance and decision making bodies. At 2022 Synod, four resolutions were passed to address these areas highlighted and since then

Left to right, Uzoma Asagwara, Nadia Thompson, Wilson Akinwale, Jamie Moses, Zilla Jones. Photo: Jamie Moses. Used with permission.
Lawyer Zilla Jones is a member of Black Anglicans of Canada Dismantling Anti- Black Racism Committee, Diocese of Rupert's Land. She is a criminal defence and human rights/poverty law attorney at Jones Law Office.
Rev. Wilson Akinwale is the Chair of Black Anglicans of Canada Dismantling Anti- Black Racism Committee, Diocese of Rupert's Land. He is also the Incumbent at St. Thomas Anglican Church Weston, Winnipeg, MB.

Black Anglicans of Canada’s mission is to “increase the participation, representation, empowerment and belongingness of Black People in lay and ordained leadership roles in the full life of the Anglican Church of Canada, and to develop partnerships with Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) and other oppressed peoples.” Learn more about Black Anglicans of Canada by visiting their website.

Watch a recording of the Ours to Tell celebration here.

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