Ambe Chenemu, right, with members of the Black Advocacy Coalition in a photo posted to Facebook after the coalition's Emancipation Day event in August 2022.
Since the NWT’s Black Advocacy Coalition was formed in 2020, the pandemic has prevented the group from running in-person programming to recognize Black History Month.
Next month, the BAC will make up for lost time with a jam-packed event series in Yellowknife to celebrate Black northerners and share food, traditions and art from across the African diaspora.
Organizers have been planning and preparing for months and coalition president Ambe Chenemu is hoping for a good turnout.
“Black History Month is for everybody,” he said. “I really want to put that message out there. I know people are always a bit confused and think ‘is this for me?’ when they hear Black History Month, but it’s really for everybody.”
Programming includes a pan-African art exhibit at Makerspace YK, a cooking class led by Aminata Konaté of My African Cuisine in YK, and an Afro-Caribbean dance party at the Raven.
“We’re working with schools, we’re investing in Black literature to share with the public, there’s a movie night and an inaugural gala at the Chateau Nova,” said Chenemu. “So many different things. We’re also taking the opportunity to partner with other community organizations like Makerspace and Safari Foods.”
The gala will feature a performance by Djely Tapa, a Malian-Canadian Juno award-winning musician who leads the Afrobeat band Afrikana Soul Sister.
The coalition also hopes to educate through a leadership workshop in schools and by stocking little free libraries across Yellowknife with books by Black authors.
Chenemu says there has been an encouraging and supportive response from the community, but the coalition is still actively looking for sponsors and volunteers. Organizers also aren’t sure how many people to expect, so registration is appreciated.
A complete list of events, as well as a form with which to apply as a volunteer or register to attend, is available online. Prospective sponsors or donors can reach the coalition via social media or email.
“If you’ve always wanted to know a little bit about what happens within the Black community, Black History Month is really that time to get out there and find out,” said Chenemu.
“And if you’re a Black person, Black History Month is a time for you to put up your hand, be a little more visible and put yourself out there, because we’ve talked about people wanting to learn about our history, learn about who we are. It’s that opportunity to educate people.”