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2014-02-01 at 16:11

'Inspirational month'

By Matt Vis,
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Black History Month is an occasion that has a tendency to get overlooked in Thunder Bay.

But that’s starting to change.

Evidence of the shift is clear through the third annual Black History Month Gala, which is taking place on Saturday evening at the Italian Cultural Centre and sold out its 300 seats.

Dianna Atkinson, president of the Caribbean-African Multicultural Association of Thunder Bay, said organizations such as the city and Lakehead University are helping raise the profile of the month.

“This is the first time we’ve sold completely out,” Atkinson said of the event, will feature an awars presentation, fashion show and specialized menu. “We’re seeing a lot of community support.”

There will be events held throughout February to commemorate the month, such as educational library programs at the Waverly Park and Mary J.L. Black branches of the Thunder Bay Public Library.

It is building the legacy of the month that means the most to Atkinson, who is originally from Jamaica but has lived in Canada for more than a decade.

“This is an inspirational month for me to make sure we’re paving the way for many other youths that live in the city of Thunder Bay and abroad to know the community is backing them up,” Atkinson said.

Through her own experiences as a parent, Atkinson believes it’s important for children to be aware that black history is rich in Canada.

One such prominent example that captivates the attention of her son is the country’s role in helping slaves flee the United States.

“Our son is learning about the Underground Railroad and he’s learning all about that in Canada right now and he thought it was so neat,” she said.

“I thought this is wonderful to know our 11-year-old is looking back at history and saying this was an amazing event.”

The Lakehead University international office will also be hosting a program to late South African president Nelson Mandela, who passed away in December.

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