A second-year Black Experience in Canada course at Trent University Durham GTA equips students with the tools to lead and create a more inclusive and equitable society. Whether talking about Drake or historic political figures, the integral contributions of Black Canadians take centre stage in the course’s open classroom conversations of truth, vitality and inspiration.
“In this course, students hear hidden stories of Canadian history as well as uplifting contemporary experiences that speak to the resilience of the Black spirit in Canada,” says Dr. Eyitayo Aloh, who teaches the course. “They will hear of names that they never knew existed as part of Canadian nationhood and hopefully hear long-silenced and erased ‘voices' reimposed onto Canadian narratives.”
In contrast to teaching about the Black experience from a position of victimhood such as slavery, poverty and gang violence, Professor Aloh says exploring the whole story is much more empowering.
“Through history, there has been vitality and power in the Black experience that confound these stereotypes of victimhood,” states Prof. Aloh. “Those are the stories that I want to privilege in this course – voices such as Rosemary Brown, Marie-Joseph Angélique, Lincoln Alexander and Drake.”
All voices sharing truth
Rose Ironsi, a fourth-year Child and Youth Studies student at Trent Durham, is looking forward to bringing experiences and lessons learned in this course to her future work with youth.
“Prof. Aloh brings his lectures alive in vivid detail,” shares Rose. “In this course, I have learned the true history about the great impacts and contributions of Black Canadians.”
“It is important to examine and acknowledge the contributions of Black communities to cultural diversity because the true potential of a nation, be it economic, social or political, can only be achieved when it tells itself truth about all its inhabitants,” continues Prof. Aloh. He goes on to explain that cohesion can only come from a frank conversation amongst all people living together in a society speaking truth and reconciling with the past. To be productive, historical and contemporary knowledge is key.
Prof. Aloh earned a Ph.D. in Canadian Studies at Trent University. His research is focused on humour and African immigrants in Canada, as well the economic contributions of Black comedians to Canada. The Black Experience in Canada course is offered through Political Studies, Sociology, and Canadian Studies.
Addressing global racial tension and misconceptions
“We can only achieve harmony through education. When we are educated about the struggles and anxieties of each other, we are likely to be more empathetic to each other's course. I hope I can transmit that to students who pass through the class,” explains Prof. Aloh.
Learn more about the School for the Study of Canada.