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Group highlights changing face of Barrie for Black History Month

'It is really important to the community, because Barrie is changing. There are more diverse people coming to the community and we need to work together to get to know each other and understand each other,' says organizer

With Black History Month around the corner, Making Change is presenting a series of community events.

Making Change was launched in 2019 by Shelly Skinner and Michèle Newton, and has grown to include a team of volunteers who are co-ordinating the Making Change Black History Month activities for 2020.

Newton spoke to BarrieToday about why it's crucial that Black History Month is celebrated in a city that hasn’t seemed diverse in the past.

“It is really important to the community, because Barrie is changing,” Newton said. “There are more diverse people coming to the community and we need to work together to get to know each other and understand each other.”

The event’s inaugural year saw an event featuring dance, song and poetry. This year, there are more things planned, which is a testament to the growth in what was started by two friends, Newton said.

“A lot of work was definitely put in by Shelly and I, but the great thing is that over the past year, we have met a number of other Black women in our community who are passionate about helping as well,” Newton said. “Many hands make light work and that made it possible for us to do more than one event.”

On Thursday, Feb. 13 at Sandbox Centre from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Voices of Black Women in Business will be open to people looking to learn more about diversity in the workplace.

Five professional woman will share their experiences, contributions to their respective fields, and ideas to attract diverse talent to Simcoe County. Tickets include lunch and cost $15 plus fees and can be found at the link.

There is also Making Change - Black History Month Celebration on Saturday, Feb. 29 from 6 p.m. to 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's newcomers program. Tickets cost $20 per person, available through the City of Barrie TicketPro website.

Local schools have also been invited to participate in a community art engagement project, which encourages students to explore and celebrate the past and present contributions of Black Canadians. It will also allow them to consider how to overcome racism and discrimination through change.

Making Change is also helping to raise awareness of other local events taking place 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 Feb. 24 at the Barrie Public Library.


Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based in Barrie
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