February is Black Heritage Month, a time dedicated to honouring the legacy of Black Canadians and communities and celebrating their continuing contributions.
Black Heritage acknowledges the resilience and bravery of those who came before us while also acknowledging the ongoing barriers to equity and inclusion that are still present within Kitchener.
This year, the City of Kitchener is focusing on the theme of Black mental health and wellness, including how racism affects the mental health of Black Canadians.
Throughout Black Heritage Month, community partners will be organizing events throughout Waterloo Region, including community favourite, Bring on the Sunshine, happening at Kitchener City Hall on February 18.
In early February, the City of Kitchener will be hosting a ‘Lunch and Learn’ for staff, focusing on Black mental health, coping mechanisms, community resources and how the City can support staff.
In addition, on February 29, members of Council will be joining more than 50 Black youth from schools across Kitchener to celebrate achievements of young Black leaders in the city and to have a panel discussion on Black representation as it relates to success and wellbeing.
Although it is important to acknowledge the month of February as Black Heritage Month, our commitment to taking action must continue all year long – both against anti-Black racism and systemic discrimination. One way residents can do this is by supporting Kitchener’s small business community, including businesses owned by Black and racialized residents.
As an organization, the City continues to take steps to support Black, Indigenous and other racialized members of our community. Since 2022, the City’s RISE Fund has awarded $250,000 in grants to Black, Indigenous and other racialized community-led programs, projects and events. You can read about the grant recipients on our website.
Kitchener City Council is committed to providing continued support for changes now underway within our organization.
We have only begun the challenging work to disrupt systemic biases to ensure that Black and other racialized citizens in Kitchener have equitable access to the systems, supports and opportunities they need to grow, succeed, and thrive in our community.
Please join me, and all of Kitchener City Council, in honouring, celebrating, and engaging with the perseverance, strength and rich heritage of African, Caribbean and Black members of our community.