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Guelph Black Heritage Society Purpose and Mandate

The mandate of the Guelph Black Heritage Society (GBHS) is to represent the historical, present, and continued influence of the Black community in Guelph and across Wellington county.

This mandate is achieved by raising awareness in Guelph of both local (Guelph and Wellington County) and national Black heritage, as well as addressing social issues of importance to the Black Canadian communities. This mandate includes preserving Heritage Hall in Guelph as a heritage building. Recently the GBHS mandate has been expanded to include advocating for anti-racism and anti-discrimination through educational programming.
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Our mandate is to preserve the Heritage Hall as a cultural heritage building, representing the historical, present, and continued influence of the Black community on the quality of life in Guelph/Wellington and across the county. This is achieved by raising awareness in Guelph of both local (Guelph and Wellington County) and national Black heritage as well as addressing social issues of importance to Black Canadian communities.

In 2013, Heritage Hall was designated as a Cultural Heritage Property by the City of Guelph. Built in 1880 of local limestone in gothic revival style, the BME church became the centre of Guelph’s Black community. The city’s early Black community of fugitive slaves from the United States settled near Waterloo and Essex streets as workers in area stone quarries. After worshipping in a frame church nearby, this stone church was built as a meeting place and safe haven. By fulfilling our mandate to preserve Heritage Hall, the GBHS continues to provide an essential open and diverse community space for underserved communities and visible minorities to host cultural and artistic events.

Our mandate is to preserve the Heritage Hall as a cultural heritage building, representing the historical, present, and continued influence of the Black community on the quality of life in Guelph/Wellington and across the county. This is achieved by raising awareness in Guelph of both local (Guelph and Wellington County) and national Black heritage as well as addressing social issues of importance to Black Canadian communities.

In 2013, Heritage Hall was designated as a Cultural Heritage Property by the City of Guelph. Built in 1880 of local limestone in gothic revival style, the BME church became the centre of Guelph’s Black community. The city’s early Black community of fugitive slaves from the United States settled near Waterloo and Essex streets as workers in area stone quarries. After worshipping in a frame church nearby, this stone church was built as a meeting place and safe haven. By fulfilling our mandate to preserve Heritage Hall, the GBHS continues to provide an essential open and diverse community space for underserved communities and visible minorities to host cultural and artistic events.

GBHS Executive Director Kween was the lead organizer of a peaceful march and protest which was held on June 6, 2020 in downtown Guelph. The peaceful march and protest raised awareness of the Black lives lost in violence and to show solidarity for the families and communities most impacted. This historic event attracted over 8,000 people to downtown Guelph. The GBHS recognizes that although racism is frequently denied in Canada, it is evident in our institutions, structures, and lived experience.

The protest on June 6, 2020 was a starting place for the work that needs to occur to change policy and create opportunities for Black voices to be heard. In this watershed moment that will forever change the course of Black history, the GBHS launched its educational campaign, “Change Starts Now”.

#ChangeStartsNow

#ChangeStartsNow provides educational programming on Black history and culture as well as relevant resources on diversity, discrimination and anti-racism. At this historical crossroads, people are eager to learn, and we are up to the challenge.

The following educational projects have been identified as priorities by the GBHS:

GBHS Top 100 Educational Resources

A list of GBHS-recommended resources (books, movies, videos, etc.) for those seeking factual, curated information on Black history and issues

educational and cultural programming

development of booklet on local Guelph / Wellington Black history

development of booklet on local Guelph / Wellington Black history

establishment of the Library of Black Literature at Heritage Hall

Dedicated to the memory of founding board member Flora Francis, this space will contain resource materials and works of Black authors and books significant to the Black community

directory of Black owned and operated businesses

This online directory will feature information about Black owned and operated businesses in Guelph / Wellington and Waterloo Region

establishment of Dream Makers Youth Programming

establishment of the Library of Black Literature at Heritage Hall

Dedicated to the memory of founding board member Flora Francis, this space will contain resource materials and works of Black authors and books significant to the Black community

directory of Black owned and operated businesses

This online directory will feature information about Black owned and operated businesses in Guelph / Wellington and Waterloo Region

establishment of Dream Makers Youth Programming