February 2021 Update

February 2021 Update r1 ...

February @ SOVI

Photo shows a man with his fist raised in front of a crowd with signs. Photo by marco allasio from Pexels

A message from our Co-Chairs

To reflect on 2021’s Black History Month, SOVI Communications Coordinator Julie Tierney interviewed SOVI Co-chair Ruth Nakalyowa, who works for the Students of Colour Collective at the University of Victoria Students Society.

Q: How would you describe this Black History Month for you?

RN: It’s definitely been the busiest one yet, because I’ve been so involved with creating Black History Month events at University of Victoria. I haven’t had time to sit and enjoy an event because I’ve been behind the scenes planning and organizing them. It’s still been a great experience getting together to share a part of history with the audiences though.

Q: How was the experience of online-focused Black History Month events and celebrations for you?

RN: It’s definitely a new experience! We have been doing online events for almost a year now, but part of Black History Month is coming together, meeting physically, and leaving with contacts. So, it’s strange because it has taken away the face to face interactions. On the other hand, it has been positive because now we can reach people from all over. We had audience members from Georgia and Seattle, so it’s amazing to see people from different parts of North America come together for our events in Victoria.

Q: What’s one event or celebration you found transformative or impactful?

RN: We just finished a screening of a movie called Dance Like Everyone’s Watching, which was made by a former UVic student who is a director and dancer. It was picked up by the Vancouver International Film Festival, so you can imagine how great it is. We were able to have a discussion after watching, and a lot of folks were interested in the topic of cultural appropriation. It was so important to A: see a Black woman showing her film, and B: have that small and intimate discussion about the film’s topics too. It was all folks, not just Black folks, who were able to take away so much. It was great to see people being vulnerable by asking and answering questions. Shout-out to the director Simone Blais, a UVic alum who spent a lot of time at the SOCC.

Q: Was there any common themes or discussions you noticed during this Black History Month?

RN: There’s been a lot of “What can we do?” In light of the George Floyd murder, the protests, and the calls to action this year, there’s been a lot of discussion on what can be done as ‘allies,’ as a community, how to contribute to Black History Month, and how to support Black folks outside Black History Month. There’s also been discussion around getting more folks learning about Black history, and getting it into curriculums. I really liked it because it’s not just giving a history class. It’s ‘Okay, what can we do next?’ What can individuals and communities do to contribute, and show we really mean Black Lives Matter? To show it’s more than being part of a panel, then logging off Zoom and forgetting everything.

Q: What would you like to see change, or progress about Black History Month?

RN: I’d definitely love to see Black history month added to curriculums. And not just pain, trauma, slavery and colonization- but the greatness, the innovation, and creativity. Even during slavery and colonization, teach about all the uprisings and the resistance that had to happen, how far things have come, and what more needs to be done.

Q: What brought you joy during Black History Month?

RN: All the different folks that showed up and engaged. As organizers, you want numbers of course... we didn’t have as big of a turnout as we wanted, but people were asking questions, showing vulnerability and sharing. Folks need to get out of the comfort and safe zone, and get into the brave zone. That’s where you unpack these things. Don’t center yourself, but at the same time, work on yourself. We’re seeing a shift from people sitting uncomfortably in the audience, to now raising their hand and asking or answering something. We’re seeing people being intentional with asking questions and with what they’re asking- because a lot of these things are sensitive. What really brought me joy was that engagement.

Q: What would you like to add?

RN: I’d like to encourage folks not to wait, or stop in February. Keep going all year round, keep pressuring your schools and workplaces to get Black history in the curriculum, to learn more about Black folks and what you can do. Support Black businesses and make sure your institutions are securing and dedicating funding to ensure spaces are safe and inclusive for Black and Indigenous People of Colour. Show up for events, because they don’t stop after this month. Listen to Black stories and share them. Keep doing that learning and unlearning aspect of this work.


This month, the SOVI team was busy with our first events and programming of 2021. On February 9th, we hosted an International Development Week event, ‘Healing oppression through reconnection of the self’ with the incredible facilitator Nathali Arostegui. It was a treat to gather with members of our community and Nathali, to learn how looking inward and engaging the senses can lead to healing.

On February 16th, we had the first meeting of the SOVI Book Club. We’re currently reading ‘The Skin We’re In’ by Desmond Cole, a triumphant novel of Black resistance and power in Canada. It was an evening of truth, thoughtful discussion, community building and dance. Our March meeting will cover chapters 3 and 4 - with newcomers welcomed and encouraged!

SOVI’s anti-racist Community of Practice also met again in February to further its discussion on values and intention, while planning future programming geared toward change. To learn more about the Community of Practice, or to join, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


At the beginning of February, the Black Lives Matter movement was nominated for a Nobel peace prize. The Norwegian MP who nominated the organization, Petter Eide, credited Black Lives Matter with helping to spread the call for systemic change across the world, and forcing countries globally to grapple with racism. Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors called the nomination 'moving', and The Black Lives Matter Twitter account tweeted, “People are waking up to our global call: for racial justice and an end to economic injustice, environmental racism, and white supremacy."

February 20th marked the World Day of Social Justice. This year focused on a Call for Social Justice in the Digital Economy. The digital economy struggles with irregularity of work and income, working conditions, protections, standard of living, and unionization. Further, increased digital surveillance, worker inequalities and unreliable digital infrastructure have posed major problems, impacting the rights and security of workers - exacerbated by COVID-19. This day provided an opportunity for recommendations, strategies and dialogue to address these injustices.


  • SOVI Book Club | TBA | SOVI BCCIC
    • Gather virtually to discuss chapters 3 + 4 of The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole, and join our community of conversation and learning on pertinent social justice issues.
    • Follow SOVI on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for registration and details.
  • Women in Leadership Panel Discussion | March 8th | WorkBC Nanaimo
  • Gender Equity In and Through Sport | March 8th | Royal Roads University
  • 2021 Anti-Racism Arts Festival | March 12-20th | Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society and the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation
  • BC Housing Workshop | March 19th | Battered Women's Support Services
    • A 60-90 minute workshop that includes a presentation and Q+A session for women who want to learn more about BC Housing and Priority Placement Program, which provides priority access for women in BC who have experienced violence or are at risk of violence.
    • Register by calling Salena at 236-858-9730 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Understanding the white saviour complex and how to go beyond performative allyship I March 24th I Students of Colour Collective + SOVI, in conversation with No White Saviours
    • Details coming soon. Follow the Students of Colour Collective and SOVI BCCIC on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for updates!


“If you live in this system of white supremacy, you are either fighting the system or you are complicit. There is no neutrality to be had towards systems of injustice, it is not something you can just opt out of.”

― Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race Facebook Twitter Link Website Copyright © 2021 BC Council for International Cooperation - South Van Isle Chapter, All rights reserved.
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SOVI is based on the stolen lands of the Lək̓ʷəŋən Peoples (known by the colonial name of Victoria, BC). To contact us directly, please write us at r34.

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