Black History Month has kicked off its celebrations in Manitoba, though organizers say the celebration will have a different tone given the events of 2020.
The month-long celebration started with a virtual celebration on Sunday. The group 'Black History Manitoba' has planned a number of virtual events throughout the month, along with some more in-person celebrations later in the year.
"We are really looking forward to the restrictions being lifted and allowing everybody to be able to engage because Black history is such a wide topic and we want to be able to have as many opportunities as possible to be able to engage one-on-one with individuals and allow them the opportunity for that knowledge transfer," said Rhonda Thompson, an organizer and treasurer on the Black History Manitoba Celebration Committee.
While Black History Month has been officially celebrated in Canada since 1995, Thompson said this year's celebration will feel different as the community is still feeling the impacts from 2020.
Protests demanding an end to racism erupted across North America – including in Winnipeg – sparked by the police killing of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis.
Thompson said the opening celebration for this year's Black History Month had a feeling of hope.
"Today I am feeling more uplifted by the actions that I'm seeing, so we've had the opportunity to sit at some different board tables and see some changes coming to the forefront," she said.
"We're looking at police reform, we're looking at Black education in schools, we're looking at anti-racism strategies throughout different workplaces."
She said acknowledging and identifying the gap that needs to be filled is a step in the right direction.
Given the virtual events that are happening this month, Thompson said she hopes more people will take part and learn about Black History Month.
"We are hoping that awareness becomes second nature for individuals and that Black History Month doesn't just become a holiday that we celebrate and we disregard throughout the other 11 months of the year."
More information about the Black History Month celebrations can be found online.