By Ewa Chwojko-Srawley 

Ubuntu was the theme of the Pan-African Festival in Georgina organized by Kendra Mullings and the Georgina Equity & Diversity Advisory Committee.

Ubuntu is an African philosophy that places emphasis on ‘being self through others.’  

Emancipation Day (August 1) celebrates the strength and perseverance of Black communities in Canada.

It was established in March 2021, and a few months later in a small ceremony, the Pan-African flag was raised at the Civic Centre.

This year it was not a ceremony – it was a festival.

Several representatives of Canadian African organizations talked about Black History, and the importance of addressing anti-black racism.  There was live music, food, talent show, and a very important youth panel. 

Mayor Margaret Quirk expressed hope that the festival will grow.

“Educating our community through events like this is invaluable,” she said.

“Racism exists and we must work as a community to be an ally against it, to be upstanders, not bystanders.”  

Mayor Quirk & Kendra Mullings
Elena Rinne & Elder Lee MillerYork Region Alliance of African Canadian Communities

Kendra Mullings stressed the importance of youth involvement.  Indeed, she is called a mentor by Elena Rinne, a 15-year-old Keswick student and a member of Black York Region Youth.

“I was told, you cannot control what your ancestors did in the past, but you can control, and change, how you choose to shape the future,” Rinne said.

“I am here to speak out publicly against racism, and to support the Black community. Watching the flag being raised here tells me that it’s an important step for Georgina to be inclusive of everyone.” 

Another Black York Region Youth member is grade 11 Georgina student Runi Friday.

“I have experienced racism, and it is a problem here and everywhere,” she said.

“But a festival like this makes me feel proud to be from Georgina. We need more community events like this.”

Her fellow Georgina student, Janae Lanyne, has been involved with teaching Black history and culture to local students.

She stresses the importance of youth sharing their experience and knowledge with other youth.

“I had mixed reactions” she said, “but the highly positive messages I received are most important and encouraging.” 

Runi Friday (sitting, first from right) with her family and Kendra Mullings

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