February is Black History Month. To mark the occasion, Bring on the Sunshine will be hosting a three-day virtual festival for the community.
From February 19 to 21, the Black Culture Celebration will be using social media to live stream and upload video performances, panel discussions and workshops.
“This year we’re going to be doing it for the Family Day weekend. The layout of it has changed from the past year and we’re hoping that with doing it this way it’ll allow people to stay more engaged in it. We’re all tired of sitting in front of the screen,” said Nasrin Mohammed, event coordinator for Bring on the Sunshine.
This is the second year they have had to do their festival virtually due to the pandemic. Bring on the Sunshine started running a festival for the community in 2010.
“When it was in-person, it was more ranging, I think between 6,000 to 7,000 individuals. Last year for virtual, it’s around 3,000.”
The Black Culture Celebration will run online February 19 and 20 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on February 21. It is free to watch but tickets can be registered online.
“We have tickets right now through Eventbrite. So, we’re going to be live streaming the whole thing so people can watch it through Facebook Live or YouTube. And we’re going to do Instagram Live as well,” said Mohammed.
The three days will consist of a variety of performances, workshops, tributes, speakers and discussions on the topic of Black history and culture.
“So, on the Saturday we’re going to be having a lot of performances. We have some fashion clips from different parts of Africa. And we have the Desmond Tutu tribute going out to him and also many like workshops. On the Sunday, we have more vendors within the KW region and our panel discussion. So, we have about three to four panelists on that day and they’re going to be speaking on success and Black history.”
Prior to the festival, a hip hop group went around the region’s schools to teach kids dance routines and inspire them to learn more about black history. The video from the Inspire Tour will be played during Monday’s part of the virtual festival.
“We have a hip hop dance group that is doing something called an Inspire Tour. So, they went around to all KW schools, teaching them a little dance routine and just teaching kids about Black history,” said Mohammed.
“Also on that day, we have a video from Swaziland. It’s a place in Africa and it’s a 30-minute video that has a lot of great content about the culture. We’re also doing two interviews. We have a conversation with Selam, she is an Ethiopian person here in KW, and we’ll be talking about racism against the Black people here in KW and her journey with it because she’s a very outspoken activist within Kitchener-Waterloo. And then we’re also having an interview with Phyllis, who is part of the Waterloo District Region School Board. We’re going to be asking her a few questions about how Waterloo Region and the school board, how they’re helping or trying to fix the racism situation and what anti-racism programs they have going on right now.”
More information about the virtual festival can be found on the organization’s website.