South Shore Students Celebrate African Heritage

Posted on Friday, February 8, 2019 16:38 PM

African music rang through the halls of Forest Heights Community School yesterday as students and guests celebrated African Heritage month.

The event included an address from Paul Ash, the new Regional Executive Director of South Shore Regional Centre for Education (SSRCE).

"Not only is this a wonderful opportunity for us to learn about the accomplishments of people of African descent but it's also an opportunity for indviduals to be exposed to difference," said Ash.

His address was followed by a rendition Lift Every Voice and Sing by singer Haley Smith.

Written in 1900 by James Johnson, an American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, the song is often called the Black National Anthem.

Smith also performed the song Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel.

Ken Fells, Race Relations, Cross Cultural Understanding, and Human Rights Coordinator for the area, coordinated the event.

He says it was the first official launch of African Heritage Month to happen in a South Shore School and he felt it was important to have the celebration at Forest Heights due to incidents that occurred back in 2016 involving a confederate flag and a noose.

"There (weren't) good explanations about what things had taken place in the past so I felt it was more important that we host it there, and the children were very receptive."

Fells led the Sambra Chester Drum Group for their first public performance.

He has taught African drumming to children and teens in several South Shore communities, which he says often builds a lot of confidence in young teens of African descent.

"In the South Shore a lot of the children don't see a lot of black people, so they're usually only one or two people in the (student) population," says Fells.

Fells also brought in Amadou and the Toronto Drum Group who also performed drumming as well as African Kora - it was their third performance that day.

Amadou led the students in several dances and shared a bit of wisdom.

"Before you build a house you need to build a foundation, that’s why you are in school," he said.

 

To hear some of the music from this event, tune into South Shore Sunday Morning February 10.

Story by Brittany Wentzell
Twitter: @BrittWentzell
Email: [email protected]