Bluewater District School Board

Bluewater's JDSS Hosts Pan-African Flag Ceremony page

JDSS Hosts Pan-African Flag Ceremony

JDSS Hosts Pan-African Flag Ceremony
Posted on 02/11/2023
Canadian and Pan-African flags outside JDSSPan-African and Canadian flags outside JDSS with ceremony guests gathered aroundAs part of board-wide recognition of Black History Month in Bluewater District School Board, students and staff at John Diefenbaker Senior School (JDSS) in Hanover held a special ceremony with invited guests on Wednesday, February 8, 2023.   

The first annual student-led event of its kind at the school included the raising of the Pan-African flag, and a chance to listen to and learn from the voices of Black students and Black community members at large.

The ceremony began with the flag-raising and opening remarks by student Ariel Lyon, who spoke brilliantly about the symbolism in the flag.  "We raise this flag today to honour our ancestors, whose shoulders we stand on, and to recognize the continued contributions of Black folks in Grey and Bruce."

Singer/songwriter Alicia Keys' rendition of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was played while attendees had the opportunity to watch the Pan-African flag roll and wave alongside the Canadian flag.

JDSS student Jesse Lyon shared a land acknowledgement thanking the communities of Saugeen First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, whose land the school resides on. 

Joan John, CEO of JunCtian and a councillor in Southgate, spoke candidly about her experiences immigrating to Canada, the importance of representation, and the power of community.  Safoora Forde, also a member of JunCtian, reflected on the impact of intersectionality and continually recognizing the contributions of Black Canadians, every day.  Selwyn Hicks, a former city councillor in Hanover, also spoke about his experiences immigrating to Canada and settling in Hanover.  Finally, Patricia Lorenzo, from the Grey County Black History Society, shared about the importance of education, quoting Nelson Mandela, "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion.  People must learn to hate.  And if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.  For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."

Group photo - Back (L-R): Krista Johnson, Heather Bender, Pat Lorenzo, Andrew Riddick, Ethan, Caliana, Ariel, Safoora Forde, Joan John, Sue Paterson, Rev. Beverone Bagal, Melissa McEwen; Front row (L-R): Destiny, Jesse, Desmond, Deedra Watson, Selwyn HicksThe ceremony ended with a moment of silence, led by JDSS student Caliana Price, who encouraged attendees to place carnations at the bottom of the flagpole in honour of the Black history so deeply rooted in Grey and Bruce counties.  The flag will remain up for the entire month of February.

Hanover Mayor Sue Paterson, Bluewater District School Board Trustee Tracy-Lynn Atkinson, Superintendent of Education Melissa McEwen, JDSS Principal Andrew Riddick, and Vice-Principals Heather Bender and Krista Johnson were also in attendance, along with several students and staff.

View our photo/video gallery below and speeches from the ceremony.

Submitted by: Trinna Thompson, JDSS Teacher

JDSS flag-raising student script.pdf

JDSS flag-raising remarks - Selwyn Hicks.pdf

JDSS flag-raising remarks - Pat Lorenzo.pdf

Bluewater District School Board is located on the traditional land of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, which is represented by the communities of Saugeen First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.
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