Eight young Montrealers are spending part of their summer immersed in the history of Quebec’s Black community as well as the area where it was first rooted, Little Burgundy.
The students ranging in age from 15 to 21 are united in their enthusiasm to learn as much as they can about the individuals, events, and institutions that molded the foundation of our community.
The initiative is labeled as a ‘Junior Tour Guides 2021’ and is part of The Round Table on Black History Month’s ‘This is Our Real Montreal’ project, in collaboration with Union United Church Walking Tour.
It offers six weeks of paid training to participants, allowing them to research and discover those missing pages of history from testimonials of guest speakers as well as visiting important sites and conducting their research.
For some of the participants, it’s an adventure in discovery.
Such as for Essielle Hounsa a 21year-old studying psychology-sociology at Université de Montréal is bolstered by the awareness that our history which “started long before we came in contact with colonizers” is continuing to flourish and has a lot further to go.
Abraham Mutayanjulwa a 15-year-old École secondaire Marguerite-De Lajemmerais student spoke about appreciating the “opportunities offered to him by the program” especially his discovery of the story of Marie Joseph-Angelique.
The same is true for Shayah Corbin also15 years old, who attends Trafalgar School For Girls. She says she’s learning a lot from hearing different people’s stories and differing points of view, all of which she is certain will continue to be a source of empowerment as she looks to the future.
Discovering identifying markers and plaques of Black historical figures around the city has been an eye-opener for 16-year-old Djelimory (Djely) Diabate who attends Saint-Henri High School, but he says equally disheartened by the placement of one or two of these plaques.
Other participants are ready to package some of what they have been gathering from the program into future endeavors.
Eighteen-year-old Zoëh Julien, a John Abbott College student says she is taking the opportunity to learn more about Black history in the city.
“I want to share it with people I know and probably people I don’t know because I don’t think we know enough about this city and the people who help make it what is.”
Sophia Kobrak Andino, a 16-year- old attending College International Marie de France says in addition to the history lessons, she is grateful for the other skills that she has been acquiring from volunteering as it will all serve well in educating others.
Seventeen-year-old Ariel Marshall who will be entering Dawson College to study psychology says the program has “opened her eyes to what is going on” is serving as a catalyst for change in her life.
Pierre Amony, 15 years old of St. Laurent High School says learning about the many contributions of Blacks to the history of Canada is motivating him to advocate to have Black history included curriculum at his school and beyond.
Alysha Maxwell-Sarasusa, a Concordia University political science student is serving as the coordinator of the program and Michael Farkas, president of the Round Table is the supervisor.