Coalition Partners Unite in Embracing Joy: Black Mental Health Week Opening Ceremony

March 4th marked a significant moment to a week full of events for Black Mental Health Week. Canadian Women of Colour Leadership Network (CWCLN) proudly participated in the opening ceremony of Black Mental Health Week, hosted by the Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition (OBMHC), alongside other esteemed coalition partners. This event served as a poignant gathering, bringing together members of the Coalition and our broader community to collectively explore and celebrate the profound impact of joy on mental health within Ottawa’s Black communities.

The atmosphere of the event was truly uplifting, with vibrant elements such as African drumming, captivating storytelling, and an Indigenous blessing that grounded the space and fostered a sense of solidarity with the Black community. CWCLN, represented by its esteemed Founder Sophia Jacob, felt deeply honored to contribute to this occasion. Sophia’s remarks during the ancestral land acknowledgment resonated deeply, shedding light on the significance of the UN Decade for People of African Descent, the grassroots Halifax Declaration, and the enduring legacy and wisdom of African, Caribbean, and Black ancestors. She also eloquently addressed the challenges and joys inherent in their courage and resilience, offering valuable insights to all in attendance.

Participants were further enriched by the soul-stirring melodies of the Heavenly Voices choir and the enlightening keynote address delivered by Dr. Monnica Williams, Ph.D. The presence of such esteemed speakers and performers added depth and resonance to the event, amplifying the importance of mental health and well-being within Ottawa’s Black communities.

The Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition, consisting of more than 20 Black leaders in various fields including health and social services, academics, and community associations, remains steadfast in its dedication to identifying systemic changes that will enhance the mental health and well-being of Black residents in Ottawa. The formation of the Coalition was born out of numerous conversations and forums with community leaders and organizations, all united by a shared desire for culturally targeted mental health support tailored to the needs of Black communities.

As such, the Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition reaffirms its commitment to collaborating with mental health service partners to create safe, inclusive spaces within our community for healing and resilience-building. This year, the theme of Black Mental Health Week, “Embracing Joy: Past, Present, and Future,” serves as a powerful reminder of the intrinsic connection between joy and mental well-being, highlighting the importance of fostering joyous experiences to promote holistic health within Ottawa’s Black communities.