The dangers of ignoring history

Moose Jaw Times Herald - Editorial Staff
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There are no signs of Black History Month in Moose Jaw.

While diversity is becoming a point of pride for the city, the population is still over 90 per cent white.

In the 2006 Census, more than 30,000 people declared themselves as not being a visible minority. Without a doubt, the number of people belonging to a visible minority group in Moose Jaw has increased in eight years. That number will hopefully continue to grow.

It’s true: we don’t have a large black community, but “out of sight, out of mind” is an unacceptable response for Saskatchewan’s fourth-largest city to not be acknowledging Black History Month in any major way.

More than halfway through February, there have been no major events promoted by the City of Moose Jaw. City council hasn’t acknowledged Black History Month at all.

The library has no events or displays to promote books on prominent black leaders or slavery.

The Moose Jaw Multicultural Council (MJMC) doesn’t have any Black History Month events planned either. According to an employee, the MJMC prefers less “exclusive” events.

Moose Jaw’s schools don’t put much emphasis on Black History Month either. There were no formal events planned at two high schools, and elementary schools don’t seem to be including it in the curriculum.

Canada has officially recognized Black History Month since 1995.

Generally speaking, the larger the city, the larger the acknowledgment. Toronto has a much larger community of black immigrants and black Canadians, so the onus is on public services to provide adequate programming.

Obviously Moose Jaw doesn’t have the same demand. But Moose Jaw does have a black community, and they deserve to recognize Black History Month however they want.

There are concerns every year about the usefulness and fairness of a month dedicated to only one race. It’s rare — especially in Canada.

Our country is very proud of its multiculturalism, and to isolate only one race contradicts our emphasis on diversity.

But it’s still necessary. Especially as neighbours to the United States.

Yes, every day should be black history day. Every day should be spent learning about races and cultures outside of our own, but that’s not realistic.

Black History Month must exist and it should be used to educate and empower.

On Tuesday night, the movie theatre parking lot was packed, but only seven people were in the theatre watching 12 Years A Slave.

Seeing a movie about slavery doesn’t make you an expert, nor does it exclude you from learning more about the history of the African diaspora, but it’s a start. In Moose Jaw, Black History Month desperately needs a start.

All Times-Herald editorials are written by the editorial staff.

Organizations: Moose Jaw Multicultural Council

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Canada, Saskatchewan Toronto United States

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