Skip to content

Nunavut Black History Society kicks off a month of celebrations with Bob Marley tribute

Nunavut Black History Society begins with a packed premiere for “One Love” at the Astro Hill Theatre
Members of the Nunavut Black History Society, from left, Mariama Fofana, Safiatou Traore, Cheick Cisse and Shanna Batson-Zwennes. Kira Wronska Dorward/NNSL photo

The legend of Bob Marley played a prominent role during Black History Month celebrations in Iqaluit on Feb. 14.

“He is considered one of the pioneers of the genre called reggae,” said Stephanie Bernard, president of the Nunavut Black History Society, as she introduced a film and performance at the Astro Hill Theatre.

“Over the course of his career, Bob Marley became known as a Rastafarian icon, and he infused his music with a sense of spirituality. He is also considered a global symbol of Jamaican music, culture and identity, and was controversial in his outspoken support for democratic social reform,” she said.

Shortly thereafter, Bernard had the audience do a call and response of “Jah” and “Rastafari.” “Jah” meaning “God” in the Rastafarian religion.

She then introduced Francisca Mandeya-Tshuma, “someone who is very special to our community,” and the recipient of the 2023 Black History Award given by the Nunavut Black History Society.

After playing some songs, including Marley’s ‘One Love’ on the mbira — a traditional African instrument made of a wooden soundboard with metal tines — Mandeya-Tshuma spoke about love, fear and the power of positive thinking.

“We let society, and the labels that it gives us — race, gender, religion, class — we are so stuck on our differences, and scientists have proved we are 99.99 per cent the same. But because of fear, we focus on the 0.01 per cent,” she said. “So Bob Marley, he clearly chose love, and he came from a binary black and white background… Fear does not stay near where there is love. So love, for me, can change the world. Individuals all have a chance to love and to change the world.”

For the remainder of Black History Month celebrations, the society in Iqaluit has a full-slate planned:

-Feb. 20-March 12: Black History Month Film Festival (movie every Thursday, 6:30-7 p.m. at the Astro Theatre)

-Feb. 24: Anti-racism workshop with Francisca Mandeya-Tshuma, Astro Theatre, 2 p.m.

-Feb. 26-29: Black History Month school tour with Dr. Amadou Ba (Iqaluit schools only)

-Feb. 27: Colonialism — African Heroes and Resistance with Dr. Amadou Ba, in-person lecture at the Astro-Theatre, 7 p.m.

-Mar. 2: Nunavut Carnival Launch Party, Edwin Yearwood live in concert, Storehouse, 8 p.m.

Mar. 16-31: Nunavut Carnival (times and dates to be announced); costume-making workshops, costume parade, celebration finale

“It’s a little bit late for us this year,” concluded Bernard, “but it’s going to be fun!”

President of the Nunavut Black History Society, Stephanie Bernard, gives an introduction to the life of Bob Marley before a film and performance. Kira Wronska Dorward/NNSL photo

About the Author: Kira Wronska Dorward

Read more