Black History Month – The Langara Voice https://www.langaravoice.ca News, entertainment and sports from Langara College journalism students Thu, 16 May 2019 18:57:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.1 https://www.langaravoice.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/LOGO-100x100.png Black History Month – The Langara Voice https://www.langaravoice.ca 32 32 African-inspired fashion on show in Vancouver https://www.langaravoice.ca/african-inspired-fashion-on-show-in-vancouver/ Thu, 28 Feb 2019 17:00:56 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=41052 In the largest African fashion show in Vancouver, models couldn’t help but dance down the runway while showing off the vibrant colours and patterns created by local African-inspired designers.]]>

Reported by Rena Medow

In the largest African fashion show in Vancouver, models couldn’t help but dance down the runway while showing off the vibrant colours and patterns created by local African-inspired designers.

A model, wearing a dress by Touch of Africa, strikes a pose on the runway. Photo by Rena Medow.

The bi-annual fashion show, hosted by African Fashion and Arts Movement Vancouver, is held in February as part of Black History Month, and again in August. The show was held at South Vancouver’s Scottish Cultural Centre.

“What we’re doing is more than just showcasing African fashion, we’re showcasing our culture. We are here in the West Coast to merge cultures and learn from each other,” said Emmanuel Okee, one of 10 designers who presented at the Feb. 16 show.

AFAM aims to promote African fashion and arts by establishing a platform for entrepreneurs to showcase their work and build connections, said Lisa-Jane Hayfron, the event’s public relations coordinator.

This month’s show featured performances by local singers and dancers interspersed between showing the fashion lines. Guests were encouraged to mingle, dance, take photos and participate in AFAM’s silent auction to support children’s education in the West African city of Lomé, Togo between fashion shows.

What we’re doing is more than just showcasing African fashion, we’re showcasing our culture. We are here in the West Coast to merge cultures and learn from each other.”

-Emmanuel Okee, fashion designer

Although the AFAM fashion show is advertised as being for anyone, regardless of ethnicity, volunteers and designers agree that events like the show can help unify and strengthen the African community in Vancouver.

UBC-based dance group Sin-Birds gives a lively performance at AFAM’s Feb. 16 show. Photo by Rena Medow.

Building community 

For Okee, events like AFAM are an important step for building culture.

“It’s important to come out to events like this, you know we have times where we talk about important things and the deeper issues, but sometimes it’s good to just revel in the spirit of fun and excitement,” said Okee.

AFAM model-turned-designer Ebru Pinar was inspired to create her business, Marbling Creations, after taking a volunteer trip to Africa last year.

While there, she was influenced by East African handmade accessories and the plumeria flower which is local to that region and created her line to help share African art with North America.

“In Vancouver, the African community is not so big and the one that we have is not sewn together,” said fashion designer Ebru Pinar, “so I think this event brings everybody together, African or wherever you are from in the world. We are all human beings.”

Pinar, who is Turkish-Canadian, debuted her line at February’s show.

Both Pinar and Hayfron are encouraging more artists in the African community in Vancouver to get involved.

“We would absolutely love more people to know about this amazing movement, to have more support and love as well as more artists in the African community to partake in our annual fashion show,” Hayfron said.

Designs draw inspiration from several of Africa’s 54 countries

According to African-inspired designers sharing their collections at African Fashion and Art Movement Vancouver’s Feb. 16 fashion show, African fashion is all about eye-catching prints and vibrant colours.

The designs shown at AFAM reflected the diversity of culture and tradition within Africa’s 54 countries. Some of the designers drew inspiration from plants and nature, and others from their childhood memories and native cities.

One Ethiopian-style brand that walked the runway, Ethio Fashion House, used hand-woven cotton fabric to create diaphanous gowns that twirled as the models walked.

A model shows off a dress and cape designed by Ethio Fashion House. Photo by Rena Medow.

AFAM’s fashion designer of the year, Safari Kabumbe uses African fabric to create western-inspired pieces, drawing his inspiration from nature.

Unconditional Love

Influenced by the fashion and accessories she admired during a trip to Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania last year, designer Ebru Pinar decided to introduce those local styles into her line.

“When I was there, actually, I [saw] these beautiful sandals, so colorful and fun, and accessories and jewelry,” she said. “I was like, oh my gosh, these are amazing.”

In her debut line “Unconditional Love,” she used the motif of the heart as an accent on her sandals and jewels.

Udamma Fashion

Emmanuel Okee’s brand, Udamma Fashion, utilizes ankara fabric, a print style made by using wax on cotton to create bright patterns traditionally worn for celebrations.

Ankara wax prints are often named after well-known people, places or things, conveying messages through its motifs.

Okee often collaborates with his sister in Nigeria to create Udamma Fashion. The fashion line was inspired by his trips home to Lagos, the country’s largest city, to visit family.

“I just couldn’t ignore the fashion, it was really popping,” said Okee, who has lived in Canada for over a decade. “It reminded me of where I came from, and how we had different fashion designers and different colours and it was very much more expressive and vibrant, even in our clothing.”

 

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Voice Radio Ep. 3 – Black History Month at Langara, Vancouver’s measles outbreak hits college https://www.langaravoice.ca/voice-radio-ep-3-black-history-month-at-langara-vancouvers-measles-outbreak-hits-college/ Thu, 28 Feb 2019 15:00:03 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=41113 In the third episode of the Voice Radio, managing web editor Patrick Penner and social media editor Nathan Durec preview stories that will appear in the Feb. 28 issue of The Voice. This podcast features the Missy Johnsons coverage of Langara College’s reaction to the measles outbreak, and several stories relating to Black History Month.  Chelsea […]]]>

In the third episode of the Voice Radio, managing web editor Patrick Penner and social media editor Nathan Durec preview stories that will appear in the Feb. 28 issue of The Voice.

This podcast features the Missy Johnsons coverage of Langara College’s reaction to the measles outbreak, and several stories relating to Black History Month.  Chelsea Liu reports on Langara’s missed opportunity to celebrate the cultural event, while Rena Medow visits a fashion runway showcasing African designs.

 

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Black History Month goes unrecognized at Langara College https://www.langaravoice.ca/black-history-month-goes-unrecognized-at-langara-college/ Thu, 28 Feb 2019 01:47:59 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=41014 Black History Month came and went on in February without any displays or acknowledgment by the college.]]>

Reported by Chelsea Liu

Langara College did not recognize Black History Month with any displays or acknowledgment on campus.

Jeremy Rillo, a second-year nursing student, said it should be up to the school to showcase all the different ethnic groups represented at Langara and individual minority groups shouldn’t have to take on that responsibility.

“It’s Black History Month. It’s important and should be taken more seriously.”

No clear answers as to why

The Voice reached out to the Langara Students’ Union about recognizing Black History Month, but did not receive a comment before print.

There was no display in the library as there has been in previous years for Black History Month.

Langara’s library display where Black History Month tributes were in the past. Photo by Chelsea Liu

Second year film arts student at Langara Leon Ababio, who is Black, said February is a busy time for the school, so a lack of events planned is nothing out of the ordinary.

“It’s understandable, but not justifiable,” Ababio said.

Ababio noticed events celebrating Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day around campus in February, but has seen nothing in relation to Black History Month.

“If the school is going to celebrate other holidays I think it needs to include all [cultural events] as well,” Ababio said.

Ababio said because there aren’t a lot of Black students at Langara, and Black History Month tends to be overlooked.

“I think it’s a lot of history that everyone should know, but I feel like the demand for that history isn’t very big in Vancouver,” he said.

Not the only school

Justin Kandola, a previous Langara student, currently attends SFU and said there is a similar issue of representation on campus.

“It sucks to say, but Langara and SFU are pretty similar when it comes to this,” Kandola said. “I heard UBC is really good at this kind of stuff though.”

Gavin Gordon, co-president of UBC’s Black Student Union said one of his reasons for starting the BSU was when he noticed a visible increase in Black students in their freshman year compared to previous freshman years.

“There isn’t a large population of Black students in Vancouver,” Gordon said. “We’re definitely here.”

Reporter Chelsea Liu interviewing Gavin Gordon about representation:

Gordon said Black History Month won’t cross someone’s mind unless that individual is Black, but the ethnic majorities of a school are not a true reflection of the problem.

He hopes schools make more of an effort to acknowledge and celebrate events important to all students.

“It’s important that these schools recognize and understand that they should try and be accommodating,” Gordon said.

 

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Opinion: Langara should recognize Black History Month with cultural events https://www.langaravoice.ca/opinion-langara-should-recognize-black-history-month-with-cultural-events/ Thu, 28 Feb 2019 00:38:27 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=40996 Throughout the year, Langara has many cultural festivities, celebrating events from different parts of the world, including Diwali and Lunar New Year, but why doesn’t the school celebrate Black History Month?]]>

By Tierney Grattan

Throughout the year, Langara has many cultural festivities, celebrating events from different parts of the world, including Diwali and Lunar New Year, but why doesn’t the school celebrate Black History Month?

Perhaps it is because of the school’s overall population, which has more students of Indian and Chinese descent than of African descent. Langara also has many international students from these countries and hosting the events may make them feel less homesick and help in creating friends.

On the Government of Canada’s official website, it says “During Black History Month, Canadians celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Black Canadians,” and yet there is no recognition of Black History Month at Langara.

Black culture worthy of representation

Having an event for a specific culture can also be a teaching strategy. Vancouver is very multicultural and people from all over the world live here. Some international students may be unfamiliar with certain cultures residing in Vancouver. Through events like Black History Month students can learn about other cultures and understand them better. It may alleviate prejudice towards people from different backgrounds, and allows people to share the unique wonders and characteristics of their culture.

Langara should do more to honour and celebrate Black History Month because of the long history of oppression and systemic racism towards black people and black culture in North America.

Even though people of African descent make up only 1.7 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s population, Black History Month is just as important as any other cultural tribute in the city, and is just as worthy of being represented at a school event.

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Black Culture is Underrepresented in Vancouver https://www.langaravoice.ca/black-culture-is-underrepresented-in-vancouver/ Wed, 21 Feb 2018 13:59:05 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=31922 Black artists, writers and social activists shared their experiences about growing up and living in Vancouver with the public because they say black culture is underrepresented in the city.]]>

Reported by Agazy Mengesha

Black artists, writers and social activists shared their experiences about growing up and living in Vancouver with the public because they say black culture is underrepresented in the city.

A panel discussion at the central Vancouver Public Library called Where Are You Really From? On Being Black in Vancouver was hosted on Feb.13 by Chelene Knight, an SFU graduate and managing editor of Room magazine.

More diverse conversations are needed

Knight said she had noticed an obvious need for events like this in the city.

Black History Month events in Vancouver tend to cover the same topics and the same people every year,” Knight said in an email to The Voice.

“One of the biggest issues is that there is no real marketing around these events. They all tend to be put together last minute by people who feel like they should do something because it’s February and to me that is not good enough.”

Knight said that she chose the VPL in particular because she felt that they had failed to showcase black literature and art enough in previous events.

Librarian Broadus Mattison helped organize the event and said that the VPL was working to better represent the diverse communities of Vancouver.

“I know our focus now is to engage those communities and lift their voices up,” Mattison said.

A lack of awareness across Canada

Chantal Gibson, a Langara College alumni and visual artist, was one of the five panelists. She shared her experiences about confronting racist imagery in literature while attending UBC and how her work speaks to representations of blackness in old Canadian text.

According to Gibson, Canada’s awareness of black history is divided across the country partly because of population and geography but also because of interest.

She said in areas like Toronto and Montreal, there is more being done to showcase works of black artists and writers beyond Black History Month.

“That’s why this event is really important because we don’t see ourselves often. Black History Month comes and then all of a sudden there are spaces, right? But really this is an ongoing conversation,” Gibson said.

Gibson is currently part of a first ever art exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum celebrating black Canadian contemporary art.

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