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Runnymede centre celebrates black history

Runnymede Healthcare centre celebrates black history

LISA RAINFORD More from this author
Mar. 2, 2006

Runnymede Health Centre believes that unity is strength.

That was this year's theme at the centre's Black History Month celebration last week when staff hosted its third annual all-day event to share their heritage while raising awareness of the contributions the black community has made to society.

"Together it takes three days to put together," said Dean Cameron, a nurse at Runnymede since 1998 and founder of the celebration.

Cameron's efforts extend beyond the health centre into the neighbourhood where she speaks to students at various schools. The responsibility, she said, has fallen into the hands of community members to educate children about the significance of black history.

Adorning the walls of the day room on the hospital's second floor were photos of Willie O'Ree, the first black NHL hockey player, Charmaine Crooks, the first Canadian black woman to run 800 metres in less than two minutes and Connie Sparks, the first black woman to become a judge in Canada.

Revelers danced to the beats of "drummers extraordinnaire" Sekou Saho and Friends.

To encourage others to think about their families and the pioneers of their culture, Cameron, along with Augustine Wilkes, set up a display, which included Caribbean, Jamaican and African fashions, books and black history posters throughout the years.

"We would like to share not just with Runnymede, but with all of Toronto," said Wilkes.

Said Connie Dejak, acting chief executive officer, "I just want to congratulate the committee. They've worked hard to help us celebrate their heritage. We're proud of them."

Runnymede Healthcare Centre has a "very strong" black population, according to Dejak.

In an attempt to heighten awareness of black history in the United States, historian and educator Carter G. Woodson he established Negro History Week in the mid-1920s. It is said that he chose the second week in Feb. in celebration of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas' birthday. In 1976, Black History week became Black History Month.

Former MP Jean Augustine (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) can take credit for the designation of February as Black History Month in Canada. The first black Canadian elected to parliament, Augustine was then parliamentary secretary to the prime minister in December 1995 when the motion was carried unanimously by the House of Commons.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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