Black heritage exhibit curated by GBHS opens at museum

ABOYNE – The Guelph Black Heritage Society (GBHS) celebrates Black Heritage Month with an exhibit on the Wellington County Museum and Archives.

The exhibit highlights native Black tales and up to date group accomplishments and stays on show till July 9.  

The opening reception on Feb. 4 included catering from Huge Jerk and music from DJ Jinx and speeches from Denise Francis and Kween, who curated the exhibit. 

Kween, the manager director and social justice initiatives coordinator at GBHS, mentioned it was “actually particular” seeing individuals who have been a part of GBHS’ journey go to the exhibit, and “actually cool to see the historical past of every thing multi function place as a substitute of Denise’s mind.”

The GBHS is the one Black-owned and Black-focussed facility in Guelph and Wellington County, she famous.  

The exhibit explains how GBHS fashioned in November 2011 to protect the historic significance of the Heritage Corridor by making a cultural, historic and social centre in Guelph and Wellington County. 

Previously the Guelph British Methodist Episticopal church, Heritage Corridor was “constructed by previously enslaved Black people and their descendants who arrived within the space by way of the Underground Railroad,” states a plaque within the exhibit.

Heritage Corridor is now a gathering area for group teams and hosts occasions like “cultural and academic programming, live shows, workshops and dramatic displays,” due to the work of the GBHS.

Kween mentioned the a part of the exhibit that stands out to her is the flags on show, and the GBHS flag reminds her “how lengthy, but fast” their journey has been. 

There are artifacts discovered throughout “Freedom Venture” renovations in 2021, together with items of a chamber pot and a small toy tank that’s estimated to be nearly 100 years outdated. 

“The tank is so cool to see cleaned up,” Kween mentioned with amusing. “Denise discovered that within the rubbage of the Heritage Corridor.” 

There’s a giant display screen within the exhibit exhibiting movies of: 

– the Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020, when 1000’s of individuals marched via Guelph, with speeches by Kween and different group members; 

– the vigil at Heritage Corridor on the primary anniversary of the Guelph Black Lives Matter protest; and

– a tour of Heritage Corridor after its Freedom Venture renovations.

There are QR codes linking to 5 extra movies of “tales, struggles, and triumphs” of native Black group members within the 1800s and early 1900s. 

Francis, the president and treasurer of the GBHS, mentioned the exhibit reminds her of what officers envisioned the “first day after we began the GBHS and we had been sitting at [John Leacock’s] kitchen desk,” and the way far they’ve come since. 

John Wesley Leacock is a founding member of the GBHS who’s highlighted within the exhibit, together with Marva Knowledge, Kween and Francis. 

Francis mentioned she’s “had sure objectives for the reason that starting and we’ve achieved most of them,” noting that seeing the finished restorations after the Freedom Venture in 2019 was monumental for her. 

These accomplishments took loads of time, vitality and sacrifices, “and it was tiring,” Francis mentioned. 

She mentioned she is feeling bittersweet as a result of “it’s sort of the top of this lifecycle for this journey.

“We’re taking a brand new path” and asking “what does the long run maintain for us?” 

Francis mentioned life is a journey with cycles and levels, and “now that my checklist is finished it’s time for me to maneuver on.” 

Kween, who introduced on Dec. 16 that she will probably be stepping down from her position as GBHS government director, mentioned each her and Denise have been speaking and reflecting “quite a bit on discovering time for Black folks to relaxation.”

They’re engaged on “restructuring how a lot burden we place on ourselves between all of the issues we attempt to do for different folks,” Kween mentioned. 

She mentioned this yr they’re specializing in discovering steadiness “between with the ability to educate our group with out having to place an excessive amount of duty on ourselves … and discovering some relaxation and therapeutic inside the entire tribulations which have come over these previous few years.”