THUNDER BAY – Growing up, Jendaya Hopkins hasn’t been easy finding herself represented in her school text books and history lessons.
It’s why she’s so excited to see a pair of exhibits on display at the Thunder Bay Museum honouring the exploits and accomplishments of prominent African-Canadians.
The 16-year-old, who idolizes Harriet Tubman, said she had to learn most of what she knows about her culture through self-education.
“There’s very little covered in Ontario,” the Hammarskjold High School student said on Thursday.
“I learned a bit in Grade 3 and not much of it comes back to me now. Lots of the information I do know I had to study on my own. So getting to come here and see everything, it just helps me enforce the learning that I did do on my own and learn about a bunch of new people I may have never heard of before.”
The exhibits, located on the museum’s second floor, focus on two areas of black achievement. Black Canadians in Sport highlights the accomplishments of pioneering athletes like hockey’s Willie O’Ree, Olympian Perdita Felicien and football’s Mike (Pinball) Clemons.
The Roots of Freedom takes a deeper look at individuals of black Canadian descent who helped shape the country’s fabric, both historically and contemporarily.
Hopkins said she’s encouraging all youth, especially those of African descent, to check out the displays.
“It’s very important for youth to realize their roots and realize how it wasn’t easy for people to get to where we are today,” she said.
“It’s very important they can come out and see they come from amazing things and how it all comes back to them to where we are today.”
The result is amazing, Hopkins added.
Museum curator Michael deJong said it’s important to shed a light on the entire community when deciding on what to put on display.
“The Thunder Bay Museum is pleased to partner with the Caribbean African Multicultural Association of Thunder Bay in offering these exhibits and to play a part in celebrating Black History Month by bringing this fascinating aspect of history to Thunder Bay.”
In addition to the museum exhibit, CAMAT is hosting its 10th annual Black History Month Dinner and Gala on Feb. 29 at the Italian Cultural Centre.
The event features cultural performances and authentic African and Caribbean cuisine in support of the CAMAT scholarship fund. Entertainers include Rockalypso and steel pianist Earl La Pierre.
More information can be found at www.camatnetwork.com.