PRESS RELEASE — The Afro-Black Cultural & Media Centre of the Ottawa-Gatineau region announced its opening this week, as well as the launch of the first-ever online Black History Month Music Arts festival. The festival, which will take place from February 5 -19, 2021, offers residents of Ottawa-Gatineau a chance to explore what Black History Month and “Arts for Wellness and Mental Health” truly mean. From 4 p.m.- 7 p.m. each night, participants will get to enjoy free artistic performances in drama, poetry, storytelling, and music with other locals.

The centre and festival are spearheaded by Wise Atangana musician, poet, and motivational speaker who is working to help educate others on the challenges Black and immigrant communities face in Canada. Through his efforts, Wise has been able to show thousands of people the importance of challenging systemic injustices. As a Black immigrant himself, Atangana is deeply connected to the issues that systematically disenfranchised groups face.

“After several years of using my talents to raise awareness, I felt called to make a greater change in my community when I learned about the death of George Floyd,” Atangana shared. Floyd was killed by white police officers in Minneapolis in the summer of 2020, setting off a wave of racial justice protests around the world. “By pooling the combined talents of fellow artists and digital media specialists, we were able to found the Afro Black Cultural & Media Centre so we could give black youths, immigrants, artists an opportunity to express themselves in a constructive environment.”

The centre and festival are made possible in part by partnerships with ArtsConnect Ottawa and the Canadian Red Cross. In conjunction with the Black History Month Arts festival, the centre will feature a professional audio-video production studio and a collaborative workspace where the next generation of young Black Canadians can strengthen their cultural identity and develop creative, artistic, and entrepreneurial skills. The center’s mission is to teach Black youth how to use art, creativity, and technology to create opportunities and deconstruct stereotypes against anti-black racism in Canada.

In addition to the festival, the centre is planning to offer masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and food to organizations working for the homeless and the most vulnerable people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Ottawa-Gatineau region.

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