Black HERstory: MOA to celebrate Black Canadian women in February events

For their Black History Month events the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) is looking to focus on and celebrate Black Canadian women.

On February 6, the museum will have their Decolonizing Voices: A Celebration of Canadian Black HERstory event. The event will feature a spoken word performance by Adelene da Soul Poet and a poetry reading and book signing with Chantal Gibson.

Capping off the night will be a performance by multidisciplinary artist and musician Tonye Aganaba in the Haida House. Aganaba will be performing music from their new album Something Comfortable.

A Celebration of Canadian Black HERstory was organized in collaboration by Nya Lewis, founder and director of BlackArt Gastown; Nuno Porto, Curator of Africa and South America at MOA; and Marie Wustner, Curator of Public Programs & Engagement for MOA.

The event is part of a larger initiative for MOA to hold space for marginalized groups and to let members of a community create events and programs that interest them.

“As the curator of public programming it is my responsibility to bring the museum to life and the way that I do this is by asking people to curate for their own communities. Black Herstory month events were created by Black women

for Black women and to educate and share with MOA visitors their personal experiences as marginalized voices in this country,” said Wustner, in a written statement to The Ubyssey.

“This community of strong women have graciously agreed to share their conversations, art and hearts with the public in an effort to speak their truths and celebrate themselves, their ancestors, and the vibrant communities that they come from.”

The work at MOA to authentically represent Black stories doesn’t just end in February though.

“Nuno and I have been collaborating with Black communities and individuals here in Vancouver for the last year and a half. We are asking Black artists and intellectuals from Vancouver to participate in a series of events and a large research project that aim to decolonize the African collection,” wrote Wustner.

Earlier this year MOA announced the creation of 16 student positions to revise and research over 1,000 African objects on display.

The museum will be hosting the program Youth Speaks later in the month for a discussion on the effects of racism on young people’s lives. In April MOA will be hosting a poetry night where students from the Black Student Union will have the opportunity to “share their poetry and experiences.”

“Our responsibility as a museum is to invest in these voices and to learn from them in order to better understand the collections that we house as well as continuing the path towards diversity and inclusion by creating space for self-representation,” wrote Wustner.

“By doing this we uphold a broad worldview of humanity and allow the full range of cultures to be represented by themselves.”

Decolonizing Voices: A Celebration of Canadian Black HERstory will take place at MOA on February 6 from 6 to 8 p.m.