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African Events in Ottawa — The BLK Frosh 3.0

BLK Frosh 3.0 Logo

Some of you–including me before understanding what this whole thing was all about–may not understand why, here in the West, it’s a thing for Black people to get together, and find this type of events racist. However, this racially-based fear comes from a fact: Black people being still few in a predominantly White country, and encountering similar issues (racism), gathering always helps to externalize our frustration and share how our experiences affect our lives, and if the need is felt, help and empower each other. I will certainly develop an article about that idea of non-mixity in the near future. And BLK Frosh does a very good job in organizing events during a whole week, allowing Ottawa’s post-secondary Black students to benefit from all these advantages I just mentioned.

What is BLK Frosh and how I discovered it

BLK Frosh is, you’ll guess it, a frosh week, also called orientation week in some campuses. For those who may not know what a frosh week is, it’s a week full of activities happening in and out the university, organized for freshmen by their respective faculties’ student councils.

So back to the topic, BLK Frosh is a week full of events organized by an organization based in Ottawa I will get to talk about more in the next few articles called Black Like Me 613. BLK Frosh basically aims to gather Black students from the major post-secondary institutions in Ottawa, namely University of Ottawa, Carleton University and Algonquin College, and to allow them to spend their first week surrounded by people looking like them, and sharing similar experiences and challenges through their daily life. And this year, this frosh week was held for the third time!!!

What kind of activities do they organize?

Even though they change every year, you are likely to attend a cookout aka BBQ, a brunch, a lot of get-togethers during you’ll get to meet several Black people with various talents such as music, poetry, cooking and I pass!

What did you miss out?

If you are Black, were in Ottawa this past week & you didn’t attend BLK Frosh, please stretch out your arms, so I can give the whole L you deserve! *L.M.A.O* (I also can take a part of the L, since I could only attend half of the activities, shame on me, I know!!)

DAY 1- FREE POPSICLES #FORTHECULTURE (Opening Ceremony)

BLK Frosh started with a brief campus tour of the University of Ottawa, then moved to Carleton University Riverside for their opening ceremony, during which we had such a fun time chilling between Black people chatting, dancing, enjoying popsicles and other frozen desserts while enjoying music by the Rideau River’s waters quietly flowing.

We had the honor to host VibeByMelo who came with his 2 partners, who blessed us with some nice RnB music & poetry, full of meanings!! Go check him out @vibebymelo on Instagram Vibe By Melo and his two partners in crime

Finally, we enjoyed some African music played from my Afro-beat playlist on Spotify (the most lit out there but yet not followed by anyone).

From that very first day, we already knew BLK Frosh’s organizers were up to something huge and lit for the week to come!!

DAY 2- AMAZING RACE

The Amazing Race was a campus-wide scavenger hunt, based on the long-running television show of the same name. We were all invited, on a cool day, to gather in front of one of uOttawa’s oldest buildings, yet so beautiful, where a lot of fun was on the menu.

DAY 3- BLACK BRUNCH

The Black Brunch took place in the headquarters of the Canadian Federation of Students. Your question must now look like: Black Brunch? What is it? The blessed food we had that day

It’s–you’ll guess it–a brunch! But instead of having the habitual pancakes, sausage, bacon, and eggs, we had some food based on our African-descent roots. We had salted cod mixed in bell peppers, cornbread, fried plantain, fried chicken, super yummy waffles, yams, and so on…what we call in the South soul food, you know! Without mentioning the good time we had with fellow brothers and sisters!!

DAY 4-SURVIVING SCHOOL WHILE BLACK (WORKSHOP)

This workshop called ‘Surviving School While Black’ held at Carleton University aimed at preparing Black students for the realities of engaging with students, colleagues, professors, and other staff in a predominantly white institution (PWI).

DAY 5-WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BLACK? (WORKSHOP)

This workshop took place at the University of Ottawa. It was basically a round table on which we talked about our various experiences as Black people in the West. It allowed us to release our frustrations accumulated through the several unpleasant encounters with some White people who wouldn’t acknowledge their status of privilege & the racism in their comments, attitudes, and prejudices. However, most of our conversations turned around how we manage to live as normal citizens, despite that negativity we meet in our daily lives due to our skin color.Had nice talks on interesting subjects

DAY 6-SFS PRESENTS…STORY, STORY!

The poetry night theme was storytelling, and the event was titled ‘SFS Presents… Story, Story!’ for this reason. Poets and storytellers touched on topics of building community, new love, holding each other accountable, being Black in spaces that don’t welcome it, and random funny stories they could recall. It took place in the neighborhood of Lebreton Flats, not far from downtown.

DAY 7- DODGEBALL + BBQ

Last day was the most lit event of the week. Held at Mooney’s Bay Park, it started with a yoga session led by one of the participants(cause yea we have that type of talent out there). Then we played board games enjoying the sun, the beach, the small breeze and smiles on our fellow brothers and sisters’ face. As food took a minute to come, we had some snacks and a lot of fun! Around 5:45, the blessed food came!! Fried rice & chicken came, with burgers grilling on the BBQ, we sat down, ate & discussed various subjects, uplifting each other.Gorgeous people, blessed food

The usefulness of that type of events

I found it super useful since it allowed me to create a network of friends & other connections. BLK Frosh, unlike other frosh weeks, organizes its activities by making sure to create the most interactions between the different participants.

For example, during the get-togethers, we were brought to introduce ourselves to each other whenever new participants would add themselves to the group, specifying our zodiac sign, program of study, the best activity we did during the summer holidays, etc. allowing people to find common characteristics and facilitating the creation of bonds between us. There would also be animated conversations about celebrities’ businesses, a literal passion for several Black women, who were highkey 85-90% of the participants.

Why should more Black people participate to BLK Frosh in 2019

As a Black person coming from a predominantly White background, a lot of you can relate to the importance for us to create bonds between each other. Being one of the world’s most overlooked ethnicities, it is a necessity to embrace our common heritage. Whether you may want it or not, we all, near or far, come from that beautiful and richest continent Africa, and by a result empowering ourselves is a ‘must’ to start being self-sufficient and to stop depending on any other nation.

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9 events, 7 days, 1 week – and a whole lotta love for the culture ❤️ last week, we got to share an incredible series of events with y’all during @blkfrosh. for the 3rd year in a row, we came together to celebrate ourselves and our cultures in ways that only we could. after a much-needed break, we’ve finally recovered enough to rejoin the insta-world and thank y'all SO much for making @blkfrosh what it is ✨ we definitely couldn’t have done it without our participants & volunteers, who spent the week with us – laughing, playing, cooking, eating, learning from and sharing with one another 💖 special shout-outs go to our sponsors, media peeps, and everyone who has shown love along the way. 💗 we appreciate y’all so much. @blkfrosh won’t be back until 2019, but we still have good times in store between now and then, so stick around, and keep watching this space 👀

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It’s to this extent that BLK Frosh helps achieve that empowerment, we should all long for as Black people. Such a week helps us regain that trust we’ve been ripped off through the last centuries, during which millions of our ancestors endured physical and mental slavery, colonization and its consequences, even until today when we are not the main beneficiaries of our riches.

 

 

 

Steve Rutikara

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