How to celebrate Black History Month in Winnipeg

February may be more than half over, but in Winnipeg and across the continent, Black History Month is just getting started. It officially runs from Feb. 1 to 28, and certain organizations are saving some of their best events, workshops and parties for last.

Of course, this isn’t just any year. The COVID-19 pandemic has kept Canadians indoors for about 11 months and counting. Many annual Black History Month celebrations have been cancelled or moved online, but I think this is a blessing in disguise. We may have to take part from behind a laptop screen, but, this way, we can connect with folks, communities and artists around the world.

Black History Month events in Winnipeg

It would take the entire month of February to list everything happening in the city. Consider this a jumping-off point when it comes to local Black History Month events and resources – but know there’s so much more out there. Just start looking.

Check out Black History Manitoba events: If you missed the memo, Black History Manitoba’s events calendar is PACKED this month. This is the place to find out about virtual story times, performances, debates and poetry readings. Certain events require tickets, but many are free. And their events aren’t just limited to February, so check back throughout the year.

Virtually visit the Winnipeg Public Library: Most local library branches are open for hold pickups and book returns, but don’t forget about their virtual selections! The WPL website compiled a list of 358 books by Black authors – and many are ebooks you can borrow without leaving your house. This year, you could read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings or If Beale Street Could Talk. And yes, they list selections for kids, tweens and young adults, too.

Support local Black-owned businesses: Could I write about Black History Month without plugging one of the best new resources in the city? Black Owned Manitoba’s business directory can connect you with Black creatives, entrepreneurs, freelancers, designers and professionals. Check them out if you’re in search of a new salon, a restaurant offering takeout or (maybe) someone to do your taxes this spring.

Find a new read at Tusome Books: By now, you know how much I love to read. Valerie Chelangat, the owner of Tusome Books, feels the same way. Her online shop specializes in authors from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. They stock titles from The Skin We’re In to Sulwe, and you’ll support a local business when you order.

How to mark Black History Month online

If you don’t live in Winnipeg or want to expand your horizons, the sky is pretty much the limit. Podcasts, webinars, artist talks, film screenings, book readings and so many more events and resources are out there. Here’s just a short list of virtual Black History Month materials.

Sign up for the Anti-Racism Daily virtual exhibition: Most of us spend enough time mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and refreshing our inboxes. Might as well learn something along the way! The folks behind Anti-Racism Daily curated a virtual exhibit displaying Black art and work from US history. Follow the link in their bio to sign up for a new piece of the gallery each day. They’ll email you a piece of music, an essay or a photograph every evening, along with discussion prompts and actions to take.

Watch free films on Kanopy: You probably don’t need me to tell you about the curated playlists that pop up front and centre around this time of year. They’re pretty prominently displayed on Netflix, Prime Video or Apple Music. But what you might not know is that you can access certain Black films and documentaries for FREE. All you need is a valid library card to stream up to five titles each month. Winnipeg Public Library members qualify! Signup gives you access to their “Celebrate Black Cinema” and “Must-See Black History” playlists, among others.

#DiscoverOurGlory via Google searches: Last year, writer Rachel Elizabeth Cargle shared prompts on social media – one a day for the entirety of Black History Month. You can still find and learn from them using #DiscoverOurGlory2020 on Facebook. Cargle invites people to Google a term each day to learn more about Black culture, heritage and excellence.

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