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Black History Month being highlighted with gala event in Nanaimo

Nanaimo African Heritage Society hosts dinner and dancing Feb. 25
Shalema Gantt, Nanaimo African Heritage Society president, left, and society members Coco Madari and Alexander Reyes meet with Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog earlier this month at Nanaimo City Hall as the City of Nanaimo officially proclaims February as Black History Month. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Black History Month in Nanaimo started with a city proclamation and will culminate with a community gala event.

The Nanaimo African Heritage Society is putting on its 24th annual Black History Month finale gala dinner on Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Bowen Park activity centre.

The society held a virtual gala the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, and so society president Shalema Gantt said it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to gather in-person once again.

“People are enjoying coming out and being around people again. I know for myself, I’m excited,” she said. “It gives the ladies a lot of opportunity to dress up and wear their finery and come out and have a nice, glamourous night.”

Some of the performers include DJ Nova Jade, DJ Grant EPK, Agasha Mutesasira, Buwa Dede and Osman Okechukwu. There will also be a fashion show featuring Ay Lelum - The Good House of Design, and a dinner with “cultural flavours.”

“We have ballet dancers, we have African dancers,” Gantt said. “We have a few speeches, but we’re keeping those down to a minimum because we want people to come and have a celebration and dance the night away.”

The venue’s doors open early so that participants can check out vendor booths and view historical information. Black and Indigenous excellence is the theme of this year’s gala and Gantt said there are historical connections that will be discussed.

“There’ll be some displays of history, a little bit of talking about history, but also the future and how we go forward with unity as people,” Gantt said.

As she told one of her “Caucasian sisters” at her church, the event is meant for everyone.

“It’s a people thing, it’s not a colour thing,” Gantt said. “We’ll be sharing black history, but it’s really all of our history.”

The event will be held Feb. 25 at Bowen Park activity centre, with doors opening at 6 p.m. Tickets are $40 and available through For more information, visit

READ ALSO: African Connections series provides cultural education during Black History Month

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About the Author: Greg Sakaki

I have been in the community newspaper business for two decades, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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