The Anti-Racism Summit and bi-monthly events are vital in continuing the work that was started in 2020. The GBHS is helping to build the resources to empower our community to connect to our Black history, present & future.

Denise Francis

The #ChangeStartsNow initiative is an anti-racism project and aimed at preventing and responding to racism in Guelph and Wellington County by developing community resources and capacity to educate the community about racism, local Black history, and methods that members of the public can enact themselves to prevent racism and hate crime.

The Anti-Racism multi-day summit and bi-monthly activities will bring together speakers to address racism, with the goal to engage and educate the community as well as empower them to take action to dismantle racism and all its forms in our community and beyond. It is hoped that the Anti-Racism Summit will become an annual event.

The GBHS recognizes that although racism is frequently denied in Canada, it is evident in our institutions, structures, and lived experience. The partners in this project also recognize that systemic racism exists in organizations that work with marginalized communities, including policing, social service, and health agencies.

These partners stand in solidarity with the GBHS in condemning violence against racialized communities, both through hate crime and through the treatment of these communities by government agencies, including examples of the use of excessive force by police.

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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.

The Guelph Black Heritage Society was formed after the British Methodist Episcopal (BME) Church was listed for sale in November 2011. This historical stone church was built in 1880 by former slaves and their descendants who reached Canada, via the famed Underground Railroad.

Today, under the stewardship of GBHS, the renamed Heritage Hall (HH) acts as a cultural centre hosting 175 events each year with up to 90 people at once. Events include concerts, workshops, dramatic presentations, while also providing meeting space for community groups. Heritage Hall is the only Black-focussed facility in the region, representing a critical historical record and offering a unique, welcoming contribution to Guelph’s growing cultural diversity and University of Guelph student population.



Caribbean Canadian Association of Waterloo Region

Congress of Black Women – Waterloo Region

The City of Guelph


Guelph Museums

Two Rivers Festival

The Kween Company


Anti-Black Racism Facilitator Selam Debs

Black Mental Health Workshop

Youth Activities - art programming, drop ins and Leaders of Today

Miss Universe Canada Nova Stevens TBD

Bias Workshops facilitator Unlearn

Film Screenings and Talk-back Sessions

Mentorship programs with community leaders

Media Night with Jessica Smith TBD

De-Escalation Techniques - How to respond to a hate-motivated incident

Author Talks for both Youth and Adults

Artistic Sessions - paint, improv, singing, dance

Gospel Sunday TBD