Education through Celebration: ATU Local 113 Celebrates Black History Month

The beat of the African drums and smell of traditional Afro cuisine at Mount Dennis brought together ATU Local 113 members and management on February 26, for the first of two ATU Local 113 celebrations to mark Black History Month in February.

ATU Local 113 members enjoy African cuisine—rice, jerk chicken, curry chicken and fresh greens.
The main entertainment included traditional African drumming, vocal and dance.

In celebration of Black History Month, ATU Local 113 invited everyone at the division to join in on music, dance and food that recognizes and celebrates Black history—breaking down walls between cultures and ethnic backgrounds by making it clear that the invitation was open to all.

“I’ve never seen so many people engaged here at the division,” said David Spence, bus operator and owner of Fly Crown Official, an exclusive clothing line that had a pop-up shop at the celebration. “There’s typically negative chatter about what we go through day-to-day on the job, but today it’s all about positivity… it feels like home.”

The Mount Dennis Division is where the first Black History Month celebration started a year ago with a single individual: Brother Paul Wong.

Since high school, Wong’s deep interest in the history of Black people and their fight for rights and freedom became close to his heart.

Leading the celebration for yet another year, Paul shared that with growing diversity in the workplace, Black history is an integral part of Canada that everyone should celebrate. “Growing up, I did not see many black drivers,” said Paul. “But now, things have changed. There is more diversity, and we should be recognizing and celebrate it.”

The growing diversity also extends to riders. “Celebrating Black History Month is also a recognition of the people and the city we work with and provide our service to,” said Marvin Alfred, Executive Board Member of Transportation. “I’m proud of all members who move Toronto, and our small celebration here is a showcase of our collective achievements.”

Pictured is Frank Malta, Assistant Business Agent – Transportation; Anthony Wallace, Board Member At Large – Transportation; Marvin Alfred, Executive Board Member – Transportation; Steve Hajoglou, Shop Steward; Paul Wong, Bus Operator and Event Organizer and Carlos Santos, President. 

Another key element of the event was all about educating participants. After all, Black History Month began as a way for remembering and learning about people and events in the history of the African Diaspora.

Part of the celebrations included a display of important Black figures, and a layout of books all about Black history.

A spread of books written by African-American or African-Canadian authors or about key figures who identify as Black.

Next year in February, make sure to look out for Black History Month events at your division!