Inside the CSU’s Plans for Black History Month

Programming prioritizes knowledge-sharing and community-building among Black folks 

Ana Maria Caicedo // Editor-in-Chief

The switch to online learning may have gutted campus life, but that hasn’t slowed Feven Kidane, Students of Colour Liaison at the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU). In collaboration with CSU Director of Advocacy Lori Kosciuw, Kidane has planned a host of events and activities to celebrate Black History Month this year. 

A first-generation child of Ethiopian immigrants, Kidane has arranged an Ethiopian cooking workshop via Zoom, available to all Capilano University students. The workshop will cover how to make Injera, a fermented flatbread made out of teff flour that is a staple in Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisines. “Aside from the fact that I think that all black folks should know a piece of Africa, whether or not they’ve been there, it’s a really beautiful African bonding activity,” commented Kidane. 

“Food is really highly held in our culture—and even in Black American [and] Black Canadian culture, food is a sign of community, and that’s something that we don’t really have being so spread apart from each other and forcibly kept that way,” they reflected. “We aren’t tethered like we should be, and food is one way to bring us all together—even if it’s just on the internet.”

Also planned is a Black-folks-only hair workshop taught by Kidane’s friend and former hairstylist, Mimi Zaghloul. “Our hair is so cultural—the origin of cornrows is that the designs were supposed to be maps to escape the plantation. So it’s very much deeply embedded in our DNA that hair is esteemed,” Kidane said. “It’s our crown, and the entire world except for Africa really doesn’t seem to grasp the importance of this literal growing thing out of your head and how beautiful and majestic it is.” 

The workshop will be delivered as an asynchronous video for Black folks to watch at their convenience. 

“Our populations are so sparse here—if you’re not in Vancouver, you’re not gonna find a Black hairstylist ever—and there’s hardly any here anyway. So it’s crucial that we learn how to keep our identity in this world of whiteness because we’re not gonna get it anywhere else unless we go back home,” Kidane asserted. 

“I’m 23, and I still don’t really know how to do my hair,” they shared. “Everybody else can like, go get a haircut, they can wear gel, they can get like the little ponytails or whatever—but ours is big, and it’s thick, and it’s curly, and it comes in so many types, dimensions, densities,” she mused. “We have the most versatile hair on the planet, and we’ve been robbed of the opportunity to learn how to sculpt it to our personalities. So, it’s about time we learned.”

In addition to the two workshops, Kidane is planning a livestream with Grammy-nominated singer Jazzmeia Horn, movie viewings, and posting BlueShore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts’ interviews with renowned vocalist Dee Daniels and soul artist Dawn Pemberton. Kidane and the CSU have also purchased tickets to Strategem—a conference of virtual talks and workshops on Black queer identity hosted by activist and author Cicely Belle Blain—that are available for free to all Black students attending Capilano University. To claim a ticket, Black students can message the CSU’s Instagram page at @capstudentunion. 

To view the CSU’s programming for Black History Month, visit their website at https://csu.bc.ca/BlackHistoryMonth

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