BOPSers 19th Annual Black History Month Event (featured image)

BOPSers 19th Annual Black History Month Event

Black Joy: A Celebration of the Arts & Cultures of Africa and the Diaspora

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Celebrating Black Joy: A Vibrant Tapestry of Arts, Culture, and Community at BOPSers’ 19th Annual Black History Month Event

On February 29th, it was the Black OPSers’ Network’s (BOPSers’) 19th annual Black History Month Event, this year with the theme Black Joy: A Celebration of the Arts & Cultures of Africa and the Diaspora. Held at the Ontario Government’s 315 Front Street West building in Toronto, Ontario, it’s BOPSers’ last big event of the government fiscal year before we start the process again on April 1st.

Unlike BOPSers’ other two major events—the Anti-Black Racism discussion in the summer and the Annual Town Hall in the fall, where we discuss so many of the experiences and issues that’ve negatively shaped our experiences both personally and professionally, this event was an observance full of movement, storytelling and spirit, bringing hundreds of public servants together and more than a thousand more online to spend 2½ hours enjoying everything the program had to offer!

Co-hosted by Patricia Wilson and me—the co-chairs of BOPSers’ Black Managers’ and Team Leads’ group (BBMTL)—and Melanie Kisirye and Garth Edwards, who lead BOPSers’ Outreach Committee, the event offered numerous expressions of Black joy that asked everybody to get involved:

The Mosaic of Performances Celebrating Black Excellence and Cultural Unity

  • A rousing land acknowledgement by BOPSers member Marleine Toussaint, who used the French language and a passionate soul to get the audience ready for what was to come,
  • A talk by 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women 2024 Honouree Assistant Deputy Minister Cordelia Clarke Julien, who encouraged us to get up out of our seats, be Black and be proud, and recognise the importance we hold in the world around us,
  • Performances by vocalist Faith Amour, who did a wonderful rendition of the Black National Anthem and several pieces with her band,
  • Messages from BOPSers’ Interim Chair, Sarah Alcindor, and Co-Chair, Arlene Doyle, including an international roll call for representation (that conveniently didn’t call Jamaica out by name, though we were all on the edge of our seats, ready to represent!), and one from Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor Edith Dumont by video, wishing us well as we all joined in revelry,
  • Drumming from African Drums & Art Crafts, getting everyone on their feet, eventually bringing dozens of us together to move with the rhythms in the centre of the room,
  • Dancing from Dance Caribe Performing Company, who did two elaborate dances (in two elaborate outfits), inspiring everyone to clap along for encouragement,
  • Poetry from Nadine Williams, who shared perspectives from her Jamaican upbringing and how they shaped the woman she is today,
  • And closing songs from Trey Dehaney, worship leader and gospel artist, who closed the event off with a couple of songs!

The BOPSers 19th Annual Black History Month Event: We Celebrated Black History with Unity, Music, and Dance!

This is what happens when people start to feel the rhythm in their souls…

What made the event so special is that while we do a lot to celebrate Black culture through February with all sorts of talks, events and presentations, we rarely get to do it in person, much less while putting our whole selves into it through music and dance! For some, it helped release some weight from a long winter month filled with dreary skies, heavy workloads and cold. For others, it was a glimpse into us at our freest, showing what it looks like when joy’s running through our souls. But for me, it was amazing to just be with my people, feeling so many of my feelings while at work.

So, while my February was intense as I juggled leading my branch of more than 400 people with all the things I needed to do for Black History Month (emceeing two events, facilitating a talk, being a panellist and organizing a whole church service), this was the perfect way to end it. There are a lot of people across BOPSers to thank for coming together to even make this happen, but ultimately, just like the Mr. Vegas song, I know I am blessed to have the opportunity to help bring something like this to fruition!

I hope you all had an excellent Black History Month, and until the next, I remain,

The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad


One response to “BOPSers 19th Annual Black History Month Event”

  1. Bonnie Wiltshire, AMAPCEO Black Caucus Chair Avatar
    Bonnie Wiltshire, AMAPCEO Black Caucus Chair

    We had AH TIME yesterday at the BOSPSers Black Joy event! So glad I was able to attend in person. Feel SO well fed on a multitude of levels and a much fitter today after al the dancing! From the powerful land and ancestral acknowledgment in French (hand in the air salute to the ancestors in a moment of silence) to ADM Cordelia!! Talk about bringing your authentic self and celebrating it! And the jazz, dancers, spoken word “children”…. felt a reinvigoration of pride in my roots and my grounding but also an added awareness/awakening…where am I masking and time to TROW WAY de mask! Emcees you brought it all together repping us proudly and without apology and with humour through the technical glitches which were just opportunities for everyone to laugh and connect. MEGA Congratulations and many thanks BOPSers and to the creatives, performing artists, collaborators and sponsors!!!!

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