February Is Black History Month

Local events bring community together and build inclusion

Local community organization, Making Change, is presenting a series of community initiatives centred around Black History Month.  In support, Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman has proclaimed February Black History Month in the City of Barrie. 

“Black History Month activities and events are about connecting us as people, bringing us closer together, and encouraging us to support each other,” says Michèle Newton, Making Change Co-founder and Organizer. “We invite everyone to participate in these initiatives, to experience Barrie and Simcoe County in new, refreshed and encouraging ways.”

Led and organized by a team of  community volunteers, Making Change has launched an in-school “Art Engagement Project”, “Voices of Black Women in Business” a business keynote and,  “Making Change – Black History Month Celebration” a cultural experience featuring local musicians and artists. 

“What we really need is community participation and attendance to make our Black History Month events a success,” says Shelly Skinner, Making Change Co-founder and Organizer. “Having more community interest and involvement sparks conversations around diversity and fosters inclusion.” 

On Thursday, February 13, 2020 at Sandbox Centre from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the business community is invited to engage in Voices of Black Women in Business, a keynote and panel focused on how to include diversity in the workplace. Five Black women professionals will share their lived experiences, contributions to their respective fields and ideas to attract diverse talent to Simcoe County. The panel is presented in partnership with Sandbox Centre, Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre, XcelerateHER and the Barrie Chamber of Commerce.  Tickets include lunch and cost $15 plus fees.

The community is invited to experience Making Change – Black History Month Celebration on Saturday, February 29, 2020, from 6-10 p.m. at Five Points Theatre. Presented in partnership with The City of Barrie/Creative Barrie, the celebration will showcase musicians, artists and poets from across Simcoe County.  A portion of the proceeds will support the YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka Immigrant Services – Helping Newcomers Adjust to Life in Canada. Tickets cost $20 per person, available through the City of Barrie TicketPro website.

Local schools have been invited to participate in a community Art Engagement Project. Chris Hadfield Public School has signed up and several more school are expected to participate. The project encourages students to: Explore and celebrate the past and present contributions of Black Canadians; Reflect on how we can overcome racism and discrimination by making change; Create their expressions of making positive change through art, dance, music, theatre; and, Share their creations in the community during Black History Month and Barrie City Hall Rotunda in March. Community artists are also available to mentor in participating schools.

Making Change is also helping to raise awareness of other local events taking pace during Black History Month, including the Our Mosaic Lives Art Exhibit “Celebrating Black Canadian Women and Girls” installed through February at the Innisfil ideaLAB & Library and Community Conversations: Better Together on February 24, 2020 at the Barrie Public Library. 

Making Change is an ad-hoc organization of community volunteers, launched in 2019 by changemakers Shelly Skinner and Michèle Newton. It has grown to include a team of volunteers who are coordinating the Making Change Black History Month activities and events for 2020. Last year, Making Change presented a Black History Month Kick-off event in partnership with The City of Barrie. 

Making Change Event Listing

Voices from Black Women in Business (Keynote and Panel with Lunch) 

@Sandbox Centre on Thursday, February 13, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

An experiential business panel focused on how to include diversity in the workplace. Five Black women professionals will share their lived experience, contributions to their respective fields and ideas to attract diverse talent to Simcoe County. 

Keynote & Panellist: Claudine Cousins – CEO Empower Simcoe 

Moderator: Shelly Skinner – Shelly Skinner Events

Panellists: Stephanie Gourlie- Owner, Discount Granite Plus; Alicia Samuel – Vice President of IT Business Solutions, Longos; and, Wendy Vincent – Director, Konvo Media 

Partners: Barrie Chamber, Sandbox Centre, Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre, and XcelerateHER, 

Tickets: $15 plus fees  Purchase

Community Conversations: Better Together

@Barrie Public Library, Downtown Branch on Monday, February 24, from 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Global citizen and thought leader Titi Akinsanmi shares her perspectives, experiences and ideas central to connecting and building community. Aligning with Black History Month – honouring the contributions of Black Canadians, past and present, Titi and host Michèle Newton explore the concept of “better together”, or ubuntu, as a catalyst to inclusion.

Making Change – Black History Month Celebration

@Five Points Theatre on Saturday, February 29, from 6-10 p.m.

Showcasing speakers, artists, musicians and poets from across Simcoe County. Featuring: “Black & Blues”  a ‘60s Blues and R & B review with The Feelin’ Good Band; “Sketches of Black Music” narrates the development and evolution of Black music in the United States through live performance and poetry with musicians Gwyn Beaver and Shawn Pitre; singer-songwriter Cassandra Amanyangole, and more to be announced. 

Partners: Creative Barrie (City of Barrie), YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka Immigrant Services 

Tickets: $20 per person click here

Art Exhibit – Celebrating Black Canadian Women & Girls

@Innisfil ideaLAB & Library/Lakeshore Branch January & February

Photography, poetry, and motivational graphic elements created during Michèle Newton’s “Back to Black” journey are on display.  Michèle interviewed black Canadian women and girls, exploring diversity, inclusion and belonging through their shared views and lived experiences. 

About Making Change

Making Change is an ad-hoc organization of community volunteers. Through their initiatives centred around Black History Month, Making Change embraces the community values that connect us as people, bring us closer together, and encourage us to support each other. It’s really about community togetherness. Their goal is to spark broad community interest and foster conversations around inclusion and diversity. Launched in 2019 by changemakers Shelly Skinner and Michèle Newton, it’s grown to include a team of volunteers who are coordinating the Making Change Black History Month activities and events for 2020.