Why is Black History Month/African Heritage Month meaningful for you?
Human Resources Business Partner, Moncton & Riverview
In the midst of Nigerian rhythms and Canadian landscapes, my immigrant journey as a Black woman is a narrative woven with hope, resilience, and the pursuit of dreams. Migrated to Canada on February 25, 2020, leaving behind the warmth of West Africa for the frost-kissed winds of Canada, a land that promised opportunity and acceptance.
Navigating the complexities of a new culture, I found strength in the stories of other Black immigrants who had forged their paths. From building a career to creating a sense of home, every step was a dance between nostalgia and adaptation. The Nigerian spices blended with Canadian flavours, creating a unique blend that mirrored the diversity celebrated during Black History Month.
In the vibrant tapestry of my journey, the narrative takes a new hue with the opportunity to work in a diverse organization. Stepping into the Shannex corporate landscape, I am fortunate to work in a dynamic organization that mirrors the multicultural essence of Canada, which fosters and appreciates inclusivity. This acknowledgment goes beyond policies; it is embedded in the culture, creating an environment where diverse voices are heard and valued. Moreover, I am privileged to have colleagues who are Intentional about knowing me and my culture. They have gone beyond the surface to embrace the richness of Nigerian heritage. These colleagues, in their genuine curiosity, have even shared in the experience of tasting the famous Nigerian jollof rice with me—a delightful delicacy that transcends cultural boundaries.
It is crucial to acknowledge that my beautiful journey is not devoid of the challenges faced by some Black individuals, including myself. On a personal level, I have experienced being singled out for extra checks and stereotyped while at a mall, highlighting the broader issue of racial profiling. These incidents serve as poignant reminders of the ongoing challenges faced by Black individuals, demanding a collective effort to foster understanding and dismantle stereotypes.
I would also like to highlight the experiences of fellow immigrants who have encountered difficulties securing jobs due to the perceived lack of Canadian experience and the nonrecognition of previous certifications and years of experience. This reality is disheartening, emphasizing the need for increased awareness, empathy, and initiatives to address such barriers. Some even felt compelled to change their first names to English names, consciously or unconsciously, in response to bias. Some others have been critiqued for their accents, tone, physical appearance, etc., adding another layer to the complexities we navigate.
In this context, each of us must be the voice and become an ally (support black-owned businesses, learn the history, read books by black authors, be intentional and embrace diverse culture) By standing together, advocating for equality, and fostering a culture of inclusivity, we can contribute to a more equitable and balanced society.
As I reflect during this special month, I celebrate not only the milestones of my journey but also the collective triumphs of Black immigrants who have blazed the trails before me. It is a testament to the resilience of the black community and recognition that our stories contribute to the ever-evolving narrative of Black history.
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.