The website for Upper Canada College uses cookies to enhance the user experience. To review our Privacy Policy, please click on "Additional Information" button above.

“The Power of Listening” theme for Black Excellence Month 2024

At UCC, Black Excellence Month is the term for what is commonly called Black History Month.
“We make that distinction because history is the past and it is events that are placed upon you, often negative ones,” says Chisom Ochuba, president of UCC’s Black Excellence Society (BES). “We want to focus on the good things Black people have done and change the narrative by shining the light on the positive, on excellence and culture.”

Chisom, vice-president Harrison Amber and the BES membership have organized events for the month under “The Power of Listening” overarching theme. 

“It’s referring to unheard voices and how to get people to listen to you, as well as the power of listening,” Chisom says. 

BES adviser Sandra Fulford is as excited as the students about the Black Excellence Month roster. “BES is in its eleventh year and the students are doing a great job,” she says. 

The program of events includes two great speakers: Andrea Sampson, a hairstylist, writer and editor-in-chief of Efe magazine, and Justice Donald McLeod, a judge with the Ontario Court of Justice and founder of the 100 Strong Foundation, a non-profit that empowers young Black boys to redefine Black excellence.

Both speakers were chosen with intent.

Chisom hosted the Feb. 5 assembly where Sampson spoke. “She embodied getting people to listen to you through the way she conveyed her message. She stood in the middle of the stage and did call and response and had the crowd singing. She showed that you need to engage people first if you want them to listen to you, especially if you have a voice they’re not accustomed to hearing.”

McLeod will speak Feb. 26 at an assembly that Harrison will host.

“As a judge, he has to listen,” says Harrison. “He’ll talk about why it’s important to be open to different voices and to be thoughtful.”

On Feb. 8, BES members visited Prep classrooms to read stories about Black figures and empowerment, whether history or fiction.

“We also talked to each class about inclusion and what Black Excellence Month means to us,” says Harrison. “It was good to involve the Prep in our programming.”

BES is also holding a roti sale, with plans to end the month on Feb. 29 with a cultural fair that will shine a spotlight on various African cultures.

“We want it to be lighthearted and fun,” says Chisom. “We’ll have food from different countries, because everyone loves food, and games.”
The word experience The UCC Difference