For Making Change co-founders Shelly Skinner and Michele Newton, Black History Month is about engagement, education, sharing and celebration.
What started as baby steps last February, Making Change has grown into something much bigger, in partnership with the City of Barrie.
Skinner and Newton launched Making Change when they found it difficult to find events in the region that marked Black History Month. Their kids were coming home from school telling them they didn’t see anybody talk about it at school or had done nothing about Black History Month.
“It is really important within Simcoe County that Black History Month becomes something we all talk about,” said Skinner. “The contribution of Black Canadians, past and present, is a really important conversation we should be having.”
Making Change will cap off Black History Month on February 29 with a celebration of live music and spoken word, as well as exhibits. It is taking place at the Five Points Theatre.
Skinner says it is a representation of black music and black art.
Black History Month was not something Barrie ignored, according to Amanda Dyke, Cultural Development Officer with the city.
There was programming for kids and some public events but there was not enough traction.
A conversation Skinner had with Dyke opened up doors and ideas.
“There is a lot of incredible businesses and community leaders that are black and that have stories to tell and interesting things to share with our community,” said Dyke. “Their (Making Change) mandate is very similar to ours for cultural development.”
Dyke says what Making Change has done for Black History Month in Barrie is make it more grassroots and diverse, and engage a broader group of individuals.
During January and February, Making Change has worked with Grade 1-12 students in an Art Engagement project, where kids are encouraged to explore the past and present contributions of Black Canadians.
On Thursday, February 13, an all-female panel of black business leaders will gather at the Sandbox Centre to talk about diversity and inclusion.
More about Making Change at https://www.makingchangesc.com/