Arts

Photo: CC Juston Smith.

Famed transgender activist to visit university for Black History Month event

Transgender activist and writer Janet Mock will be visiting the University of Ottawa on Feb. 26 as part of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa’s (SFUO) Black History Month Gala as the keynote speaker for the event.

Mock is most widely known for her work as a transgender activist, including involvement in the “It Gets Better” project, and for writing her memoir Redefining Realness about her life as a transgender woman of colour.

Roméo Ahimakin, vice-president of services and communications at the SFUO, says that the black student groups on campus, as well as the SFUO, have been fans of Mock’s activism and writing for a while and are excited to have her speak at this year’s event.

“She’s done amazing work in the past… it’s been kind of a mission to get Janet Mock to come on campus, so it’s really an honour for us to have her be present at the Black History Month Gala,” says Ahimakin.

The gala, which is free to attend for students, will feature live dancing, poetry readings, a book signing, and prizes to keep students entertained during their three-course meal. The event’s dress code is black tie, and there will be a cash-only bar for attendees who are 19 and older.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for students all over campus to come together and celebrate black excellence in our university, and across Canada, and throughout the world,” says Ahimakin.

Awards will also be given out at the gala to recognize individuals who have contributed extensively to the black community in Ottawa. The awards will be split into three categories, acknowledging student leaders and clubs, standout professors and teaching assistants, and community members and organizing bodies .

“(We want to) make sure that black excellence all over Ottawa is congratulated and also awarded for their engagement in the community,” says Ahimakin. 

The gala is just one of the Black History Month events that the SFUO and other U of O clubs will be holding on campus over the next few weeks. Ahimakin says that the SFUO will be promoting other events on social media as they are announced.

Although Black History Month is a great way to recognize black excellence, this practice should be ongoing during the year—black excellence doesn’t end when February does, a fact that Ahimakin emphasizes.

“Black history is not just a month, it doesn’t just represent one single day that the gala happens, but it’s something that we want to keep promoting throughout the year.”

The Black History Month Gala will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 26 at Tabaret Hall. Tickets are available at the SFUO office at UCU 07, and are free for students and $5 for the public. For more information, check out the SFUO’s Facebook event page for the gala here.