Black History Month begins today and two change-makers in the community are celebrating the month with a kick-off celebration this evening.
The Making Change event at Drors, located at 98 Dunlop St. W., starts at 6 p.m.
Hosts Shelly Skinner and Michele Newton bring their themes of honouring the past, embracing the present and supporting the future to life for those in attendance.
Poetry readings, music and art will showcase what Skinner says is the right way to begin such a reflective and celebratory month.
“The event is really to set the tone for what Black History Month should be about. And even though it says 'black history', there is so much more to it,” Skinner told BarrieToday.
The government of Canada has a theme each year, with last year celebrating Canadian black women. This year, it's youth.
"As two proud moms we wanted to make sure we brought a youth component to our event," Skinner said.
Janie Cooper-Wilson will be honouring the past as someone who was instrumental in restoring the Oro African Church, north of Barrie.
Newton will be embracing the present as she continues to showcase her Our Mosaic Lives gallery in the Barrie City Hall Rotunda, and which will now be at both branches of the Barrie Public Library.
The supporting the future aspect comes from 12-year-old Dorion Odusanya, who is not only a youth leader and speaker, but also a distant relative of activist Viola Desmond, whose visage now graces Canada’s $10 bill.
While the event is to launch Black History Month, Newton told BarrieToday that it's far from being an event aimed at only the black community.
“I think that inclusion speaks a little bit to assimilation and the idea that everyone is better together,” Newton said. “It shouldn’t be that we cover and hide our differences until we’re all the same, but rather go to different events, try new foods, learn new cultures and meet people who are different from you.
"Barrie’s population is starting to boom," she added. "And while it won’t be a major urban centre, it certainly has many more visible minorities than ever before. How great is that where we can learn and grow with each other?”
The event is a partnership between Skinner’s Pleasure Diva Presents and Newton’s Our Mosaic Lives and begins at 6 p.m.
Admission is $15 at the door, while people 18 years old and under can get in for free.
Some proceeds will be going to the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka Immigrants Program, which helps embrace the different cultures and new people coming to Canada.