As February comes, anticipation for the arrival of Black History Month fills the air. At Mt. A, the month of reflection, celebration, and education is embodied by the passionate voices of student leaders dedicated to fostering diversity and inclusivity on campus.
Beyoncé Gibbons, president of the Black Student Union (BSU), radiates joy. Originally from Pictou, Nova Scotia, Gibbons believes in the power of celebration during Black History Month. She shares, “Black history can be not just about education but also about celebration, celebrating Black joy.”
In her role, Gibbons oversees the planning of events and initiatives that blend advocacy and entertainment for Black students and allies. She explains, “I started first as events coordinator, which led to my position [as the BSU president]. I oversee the rest of the [executive team], schedule meetings, fundraisers, and event ideas and give those to the [executive] team”.
Gibbons hints at upcoming events, stating, “there is going to be a lot of Black history events in the next month. Our upcoming events will focus on celebrating Black culture through music, food, and hair care.” She invites all students to join in the celebration, saying, “it is important to reflect upon history, but it is also important to celebrate strength and survival, and Black culture that makes up who we are.”
Xavier Ramsey, a beacon for Caribbean representation, serves as the co-president of the Caribbean Student Association (CSA). Originally from Bermuda, Ramsey emphasizes the importance of the CSA in providing a platform for students of Caribbean descent to celebrate their heritage. Ramsey states, “the CSA is a club to represent and provide a space for students [of Caribbean ancestry] and to celebrate our culture.”
Xavier’s role as co-president of the CSA involves coordinating events and initiatives to highlight Caribbean culture on campus. Xavier mentions an event the society had at The Pond “to show off aspects of the islands.”
Xavier adds, “I want to bring light to the CSA as a Black student hub, many of the students are Black individuals, and I want to make sure they are being represented. It is essential for student hubs to celebrate Black history, culture, and the students at Mt. A.”
Devine Levine Kpai, co-president of the African Student Association (ASA), brings an important perspective to campus activism. Originally from Nigeria and currently residing in Moncton, Kpai emphasizes the importance of community and advocacy within the ASA. She shares, “the ASA is a space for African students to be with their community. It is a community more than an association. It is also for people [with]parents […] from Africa but that they grew up in Canada.”
In her role, Kpai advocates for African students on campus and addresses issues such as racism, discrimination, and mental health. Kpai humbly stated, “my role is to provide a safe space for the African students to feel welcome to tell me about their life, it is not about me, my role is to make them feel welcome to campus.” She adds, “we also focus on providing resources, enlighten African students on financial literacy, especially when currency is different.”
Kpai highlights the ASA’s upcoming initiatives, stating, “we currently have a lot of things planned, which are going to be seen in a few weeks from now. We are going to interact with the community, collaborate with other societies, and post educational content on social media.”
Kayla Weekes, co-president of the Caribbean Student Association (CSA) adds to the voices fighting for diversity and inclusion. Originally from the island of Barbados, Weekes sheds light on the role of the CSA in creating a sense of belonging for Caribbean students. She describes the CSA as a place where students can come together and find solidarity in shared experiences, stating, “the Caribbean Student Association is a student-led society, where there is a team of students who make up the executive team. Together we try to create a safe space for other Caribbean students at Mt. A, where they can get together, whether for meetings, events, or just for fun and have that sense of belonging as we can all relKate to each other as we share the same backgrounds.”
As Black History Month is on its way, Kayla emphasizes the plethora of events and collaborations happening within the CSA and beyond. She encourages students to engage with the CSA’s activities and stay connected through their Instagram page (@mta.csa), stating, “throughout February— Black History Month— there are plenty of events, information sessions and more happening and we have many collaborations with other Black-student led societies.”
As Black History Month unfolds at Mt. A, the campus resonates with celebration, education, and advocacy. Through the dedication of student leaders like Beyoncé Gibbons, Xavier Ramsey, Devine Levine Kpai, and Kayla Weekes, the university community comes together to celebrate Black joy. Let us commemorate Black History Month, embracing diversity and the richness of Black culture.