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Library offers Black History Month programming throughout February

By Hannah Scott

Published 2:15 PST, Tue February 7, 2023

Last Updated: 4:04 PST, Wed February 8, 2023

At Richmond Public Library, annual Black History Month programs recognize and celebrate the community’s diversity.

Organized in collaboration with community advocate Mary Wilson, winner of the 2022 Richmond Arts Award for Cultural Leadership, this year’s theme is “Black Resistance and Resilience.”

“Join us to learn about Black heroes, past and present, and their contributions to Canada. I invite the community to come together, participate in thought, and be curious to learn more,” says Wilson.

Programs are intended to engage all age groups, and the group setting allows for feedback, questions, and connection between participants, she adds.

“For me planning happens 365 days a year. I get ongoing suggestions and resource info from members of the Black community and community organizations previously worked with. These (are) reviewed and taken with me to the initial library planning meeting,” says Wilson. “All programs share Black history (and) honour our heroes past and present through storytelling, films, and movies.”

This year, guest readers from Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, and the United States will be part of children’s Storytimes, happening throughout February at all four library branches. Community tables will feature at Brighouse and Ironwood branches, with a member of the Black community available to talk about Black history; Wilson says these tables are planned for all library branches next year. A video presentation will feature Canada Post’s new Black History Month stamp, which honours Chloe Cooley, an 18th-century Black woman who fought enslavement.

“We start working with our partner Mary Wilson in the second half of the year before each event,” says community services librarian Kelly Thoreson. “It takes time to create a program series in collaboration with the local Black community that is diverse, unique, and represents the theme of the year.”

Thoreson adds that some years the library uses the national Black History Month theme, while it tailors toward B.C. Black history for other years. This year more program options are focused on younger audiences, including a family trivia challenge where kids and their families can answer questions for a chance to win book prizes.

“We are also welcoming guest readers from the local Black community to family Storytimes throughout the month of February,” says Thoreson. “To appeal to older youth, the library’s Teen Ambassadors are hosting a screening of The Hate U Give, a film adaptation of the bestselling young adult novel by Angie Thomas.”

Other program offerings include:

• Film screenings of Black-centred stories, including award-winning features and Canadian documentaries

• A special edition of the Each One, Teach One book club to talk about local author Chelene Knight’s adult fiction novel Junie, set in 1930s Hogan’s Alley

Beyond the Underground, a discussion led by Dr. Carmencita Lake about different circumstances that led people of African descent to Canada, and the challenges they faced upon arrival

• An in-person author event at the Ironwood branch with Canadian children’s author Erica London

Some programs require registration, but community members only need a free library card to sign up and reserve a spot. Other programs are drop-in and everyone is welcome to attend.

“By offering Black History Month programs, we hope the community will come together in the library to connect, to learn, and to ask curious questions,” says Thoreson.

The library also has Black History Month book lists, thoughtfully selected by library staff, available online. For a full list of Black History Month events at the library, visit

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