February 21, a very special day, marked the culmination of an extraordinary project called Standing on Their Shoulders. A little over one year ago this project was birthed, a team was assembled and a community was informed that their neighbourhood would be touched in a way like never before. The mission of the Standing on Their Shoulders project was to capture, highlight and preserve the history and contributions of Montreal’s Black English-speaking community in the Little Burgundy district. This new and different approach was to be separate from past endeavors that focused solely on “jazz” or “the railroad”. This approach focused on a generation of people who first came to create the community of Little Burgundy during Canadian Confederation to find work on the railroad. We also set out to document the effects that would be carried through from generation to generation. Standing on Their Shoulders was all about capturing the history behind jazz legends and historical buildings still found in the community today. However, simply documenting the historical changes ourselves was not enough for this unique project. We intended to involve the community itself to highlight and preserve its history.
The project was divided into three phases. The first was about teaching the history to a new generation of young Black English-speaking youth in Little Burgundy. This was done through a series of workshops and walking tours with youth, along with the support of our partner organizations such as Desta Black Youth Network, Club Energy, Tyndale St. Georges, and Youth in Motion. The second part of the project focused on scouting out 20 youth who wanted to create their own videos capturing Little Burgundy’s history through their own form of artistic interpretation. This phase also included connecting with the elders of the Little Burgundy community to gather as much oral and archival history as possible. This served to provide a pool of information for our youth, who would choose their own piece of Little Burgundy’s history to interpret. Finally, the last phase focused on assisting the 20 young directors in creating their own three minute videos. With our partners from Great Things Studio and Concordia’s CEREV, our youth learnt video directing techniques and got much more acquainted with the history of their video topics. On February 21, 2016, these very talented youth had their brilliant work displayed at our video launch. The videos were rich in history and displayed in excellent quality. Over 200 people came out to attend our event, including all three elected officials from the three levels of government. Our youth were recognized and so were our elders for all of their hard work and dedication.
If you, or someone you know, would like to watch these videos then please stay tuned. They will be available online shortly. You can find out when and where on the BCRC website at www.BCRCmontreal.com.
For Full Version of Semaji March 2016 Click Here