About this Person
About this Person
The Guelph Black Heritage Society (GBHS) is a volunteer-run organization that operates out of Heritage Hall, with the aim of creating a cultural and social center for Black heritage in Guelph. Heritage Hall itself was built in 1880 by descendants of former fugitive slaves who arrived in the area via the Underground Railroad. Over the years, GBHS has been a resource for the community, providing space for events at Heritage Hall, and hosting events and presentations during Black History Month, Emancipation Day, and throughout the year to educate the community on the rich Black heritage in Southwestern Ontario.
Denise, President at the GBHS, shares that many people in the community approach GBHS looking for information on local Black history but due to the volunteer-run nature of the organization, they did not have the resources to compile this information. As a result of the GBHS's recent partnership with the Community Engaged Scholarship Institute (CESI) at U of G, Denise was connected to Dr Jade Ferguson's second-year Minoritized Literatures English class. This partnership was developed to support GBHS in beginning to compile information on local Black history, while also meeting the academic needs of students on campus.
For their coursework, Dr. Ferguson’s students traced Black history in Guelph, identifying locations of Black homes, businesses and institutions. Their research was subsequently compiled into a blog, ‘The Black Past in Guelph: Remembered and Reclaimed’ as a way of sharing the findings with GBHS and the local Black community. "I was amazed by the projects the students completed," said Denise, "The blog was amazing and I learned things about the Black community that I was not previously aware of."
Denise says that she would highly recommend working with experiential learning program at the U of G. "The GBHS now has information and resources that can be shared with everyone," shares Denise. The partnership raised the profile of GBHS on campus and drove students to attend more of their programming. A recent blog post on CESI's website about this collaboration with GBHS shares, "Since the initiation of the partnership, GBHS has also seen a higher attendance at their events from people outside of the immediate Guelph and Wellington community and has received over 300% more traction on their social media platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram." Read CESI's blog post for more information about the evolving partnership with GBHS and the impact U of G students have been able to make.