Celebrating Black History Month in Child Care


By Nwamaka Amadike (Amaka)

My name is Amaka, and I am a Nigerian Canadian. I am also the Director of Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge Child Development Centre since its inception. Along with my fellow Black colleague as my supervisor… We believe we’ve made a first in the history of our YMCA Calgary. Here, along with Caryl our GM, and Jackie my manager, we’ve worked hard to create a diverse team that we are very proud of.
Black History Month provided an opportunity to showcase some of our team members from the black community. Why may you ask? I am glad you asked. That means that you are still reading…great! Events such as this can easily lose meaning without any concrete activity to mark them. Such events can quickly fall off people’s consciousness and become boring, doing the motions, or checking the box scenario. Secondly, visibility matters a lot on issues of minority representation. It is important for the YMCA community to see that there are people from the Black community who work at the Y in different positions of responsibility. Minorities can become invisible in organizations and highlighting and giving them a voice can be a huge step in showing recognition. Representation also motivates others to action. It is important that the Y’s Black community realize that they have people who look like them that are visible and that they can look up to for inspiration.

And to lighten and spice up the mood, we chose to appear in our cultural attires, which can hardly be worn in Calgary of course (cold weather), but we thought we’d share with you anyway. We organized some diversity-themed activities with the children to mark Black History Month. We used arts, crafts, etc. to teach the children about positive elements of diversity in Canada. We believe that teaching children at a young age about diversity will provide the right foundation to be tolerant and create inclusive-minded adults in the future. Our celebration enabled the educators to share the core values of respect, caring, and responsibility with the children.
As an early years educator, we have a duty to educate the next generation about inclusion and diversity and what it means in our practice by using age appropriate materials and language and most of all, by being involved. I am proud to say that this event presented a great opportunity for learning and growth for the children in our centre as well as the educators. We hope to celebrate our cultural heritage on an ongoing basis and not only in February.