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Black History Month at Nepean High School: A Discussion with DSU
Nina Beck and Georgia Jones /  Sat, 25 Feb 2023

Photo Provided by Yasmin Aguiar

With February recognized as Black History Month, Nepean High School is doing their part to recognize the impact that Black trailblazers have had on today’s society. One of Nepean’s biggest clubs is DSU (Diverse Student Union), a club made up of students of different ethnicities with the goal of celebrating and sharing the various cultures represented within Nepean’s community.

In order to learn more about DSU’s plans for February, we spoke to one of the club’s executive members, Grade 11 student Yasmin Aguiar. Yasmin is leading the charge on DSU’s celebrations of Black History month. She’s been planning the Black History Month assembly— put on annually—since before she was an exec. With her at the forefront, DSU has been preparing for February’s events since October of 2022. DSU holds some of the highest participation records of Nepean’s clubs, and even students who aren’t official members have been routinely volunteering to get involved with the assembly. Yasmin feels that the initiative taken by the student body has really helped contribute to planning everything that is presented to the school.

Rather than focusing on a singular event, DSU has been spreading their efforts across all forms of media. Throughout the month of February, the school’s morning announcements have been used as a platform to celebrate musical highlights from Black singers and songwriters. According to Yasmine, using the morning announcements to celebrate Black History Month is, “. . . the easiest way to grab the school’s attention, from my experience. The whole point of this is to celebrate Black people and create representation for them.”

In addition to this new initiative, DSU has taken an active role in furthering their social media presence. One of the many ways that they have taken to celebrating the Black community’s role in developing Canadian society is through honouring Black trailblazers. Maya Angelou, Mary Ann Shadd, and Aretha Franklin are just a few highlights from the historical figures posted on their Instagram account, @dsu_nepean. With talents and contributions ranging from songwriting and poetry to civil rights activism, DSU has included a wide range of talents, celebrating all aspects of Black excellence. “This month, let us honour their fight for social equity and justice. We encourage everyone to reflect and continue educating themselves and their peers”.

In addition to the content dispersed throughout February, the focal point of DSU’s efforts will be a Black History Month assembly presented to the Nepean HS community at the end of the month. The assembly is not only geared towards educating staff and students on Black History, but sharing pieces of culture that Black Canadian/American, African, Caribbean and Afro Latino students identify with. Yasmin also revealed that the students involved in putting on the assembly will be sharing spoken word and choreographed performances by Black students at Nepean HS.

DSU has spent the entire month tirelessly creating content to share and inform the student community about Black culture. Yasmin feels that it's incredibly valuable for people to learn about other cultures, and that the opportunity does not arise within a school environment as much as it should. A positive step within classrooms would be consistently acknowledging Black people and their culture year-round, not just within February. Additionally, engaging in respectful conversation, reflection, and education will help to further younger generations’ knowledge of Black peoples’ history in Canada.