Throughout February, please join City Council and myself in celebrating Black Heritage Month — a time dedicated to honouring the legacy of Black Canadians and communities and celebrating their continuing contributions.

This year, we have updated the name of our celebration to mark Black Heritage Month from Black History Month. Celebrating the past has always been the focal point of Black History Month, however, Black heritage commemorates past and present accomplishments within the Black community and sets sights on bright futures ahead. Black Heritage acknowledges the resilience and bravery of those who came before us while also acknowledging the ongoing barriers to equity and inclusion that are still present within our communities.   

Black heritage is Canadian heritage. A deeper understanding of Black heritage helps us appreciate the immense contributions Black people have made to Canada and the global community and provides insight into how best to address the systemic and persistent inequities Black communities have historically faced.

Throughout Black Heritage Month, community partners will be organizing many events around our community, and I encourage you to take in as many as possible. I also invite residents to join Council and staff for a fireside chat with local Black leaders and allies to celebrate their success and inspire young, racialized members of our community to consider a career in politics. The event takes place 4-6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at City Hall in the Rotunda.

Although it is important to acknowledge the month of February as Black Heritage Month, our commitment to taking action must continue all year long – both against anti-Black racism and systemic discrimination while also building a society where Black futures and outcomes are a priority in our shared vision of an equitable community where all can thrive.

As individuals, one way we can do that is by supporting Kitchener’s small business community and especially those owned by Kitchener's Black and racialized residents. Please make a conscious effort to support these businesses, both this month and year-round.

As a corporation, the City has undertaken many steps to support Black, Indigenous and other racialized members of our community. In 2022, the City’s RISE Fund awarded more than $ 93,000 in grants to Black, Indigenous and other racialized community-led programs, projects and events. You can read about the grant recipients on our website.  

Kitchener City Council is committed to providing continued support for long-needed changes now underway within our organization through the work of our Equity team. We understand that we have only begun the difficult, but necessary, work to disrupt systemic biases, which have denied generations of Black people access to economic, social, and cultural well-being and justice. We acknowledge we must do better and are committed to ensuring that Black and other racialized citizens in Kitchener have equitable access to the systems, supports and opportunities they need to grow, succeed, and thrive in our community.  

Please join me, and all of Kitchener City Council, in honouring, celebrating, and engaging with the perseverance, strength and rich heritage of African, Caribbean and Black members of our community.     


Mayor Berry Vrbanovic
City of Kitchener