recent news

District Hosting Black Excellence Day for Thousands

More than 6,000 people from school communities throughout BC are coming together virtually for the first-ever Black Excellence Day, and the Burnaby School District is honoured to host the event.

Put on by the Ninandotoo Society – the founding organization of Black Excellence Day – the event is taking place on January 14. It is a learning opportunity and celebration of Black achievements, stories, art, people, joy, love, and history. The day, itself, is also a chance to show solidarity by wearing black.

Black Excellence Day was intentionally scheduled by the Ninandotoo Society on the last weekday before the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. The Chair of the Burnaby Board of Education, Jen Mezei, is providing a welcoming address at the virtual celebration.

The legacy of the great civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shows us how change can come from sharing truths… [This day] is also a chance to talk about the path ahead that we are co-constructing. Each of us has a role to play to make sure everyone feels safe to be their authentic selves at school, work, and in the community.

Several students from the Burnaby School District are also making presentations. Amanuel Kassa, a Grade 12 student at Burnaby South Secondary, is sharing how he interprets the meaning of Black Excellence.

Black Excellence is a mindset and a series of actions that celebrate and uphold the Black community as well as acknowledges the challenges Black people face in reaching their full potential… It is what motivates us and keeps us going – something that we need more of in this world because when Black people succeed, amazing things happen.”

Students from Grades 6 to 12, school staff, and district leaders from ten school districts, along with some independent and private schools, are signed up to participate. They are joining the virtual audience to hear from the many presenters and performers, ranging from educators to athletes and artists. All are leaders in their fields, such as Dr. Kelisha B. Graves of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia, and Khari McClelland, who recently received critical acclaim for his Freedom Singer project that recreates the music fugitive slaves carried on their journeys north to Canada.

Events, such as this, are powerful opportunities for learning, building awareness and advocating for change. The District is continuing its broader work and journey to support an equitable, diverse and inclusive environment for all. Board Chair Mezei:

Representation matters. We know that racism exists in our society, in our workplaces and in our schools. As a board, we strive to be truly anti-racist. We are learning and unlearning, approaching this work with humility and open hearts; and we are actively engaged in a process with the entire Burnaby Schools community, whose voices are helping to shape a better path forward together, including – ultimately – an anti-racism action plan.”

Learn more about Black Excellence Day and see a full list of presenters here.

Read about awareness-building efforts and anti-racism work happening in Burnaby Schools:

Dismantling Racism: Invitation to Engagement Process – May 2021

Black History Month: Celebrating & Learning – February 2021

Continuing Our Journey: Supporting Anti-Racism – October 2020

Action on Racism: Burnaby Board of Education – June 2020

Celebrating Black History Month in Burnaby Schools – February 2019


Posted January 12, 2022