By: Chloë Arneson, News Writer
On June 6, the SFU Black Caucus hosted the SFU Black graduation celebration at the Student Union Building. The celebration was supported by SFU Students of Caribbean and African Ancestry (SOCA) and endorsed by SFU African Students Association (ASA) and the Somali Students Association. The inaugural event was the first annual Black graduations.
Graduates from 2020, 2021, and 2022 were invited to attend. In their press release, SOCA noted they chose to include previous years’ graduates to celebrate those who had online graduation ceremonies. “Black students over the years have been instrumental in ensuring that there is space and opportunity for Black/African Descent students to be recognized and celebrated for their accomplishments.”
June Francis, director of the institute for diaspora research and engagement at SFU, spoke to the graduates virtually. “It has been our dream for some time to be able to celebrate with our Black students as they move on to other things [ . . . ] you never leave us as a member of the Black caucus, we hope we will continue to provide a community of support,” she said.
Francis wanted to emphasize the importance of celebrating Black joy despite challenges faced by Black students in academia. “I know many of you have advocated for change, but today I wanted to do two things. To remember where we have come from and to really rejoice,” she said. “We know that racism is still with us and we know that as you go into the wider world there is a lot that you will face [ . . . ] but as you go into the world and embrace it with everything you’ve got, that you go with joy.”
The event featured African food, spoken word poetry, Ugandan dancing, and a performance by local singer and songwriter, Bukola. The night offered a chance for graduates and their loved ones to celebrate “while creating a culturally immersive experience,” SFU stated in their press release.
The graduates were presented with SFU Black Caucus-branded Kente cloth stoles after celebrating each of their individual achievements. SOCA is also offering Black graduates a chance to be in the inaugural SFU Black grad yearbook to celebrate their hard work during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.