African Ancestry: Identities and Lived Realities
The African Ancestry Project is a research and dialogue project which aims at understanding and bringing awareness to the identities and lived experiences of people of African ancestry (or descent) living in British Columbia.
The project became operational in February 2020 beginning with the research component of the project. Research was conducted through a survey, interviews, and focus group discussions until the end of December 2020. Line of inquiry was around participants’ histories, identities, and experiences in British Columbia.
The survey allowed for a quantitative data collection that gave context to the stories that were shared through the interviews and focus group discussions. The survey was completed by 162 people of African ancestry; 18 interviews and five focus groups were conducted. Thank you to those who took the time to participate in the research and share their stories with us. This project would not have been possible without you.
We are currently working on a report through which we will share what we learned. The report will centre the stories of participants in giving a glimpse of the vast diversity of people of African ancestry.
Preliminary findings and a draft of the report was shared at the event on February 20th. This event was a day of conversation on the diversity of people of African ancestry in British Columbia: The diversity in histories, identities, and experiences. The event included:
* Presentation of stories shared through the project; and
* Breakout dialogue circles where attendees engaged in dialogue on themes that emerged in the project; and
* a panel discussion with community leaders; and
* Performance by talented and dynamic artists.
The report will be available to the public in the coming few months.
We will engage the participants and other interested people of African ancestry in the review process. The report will be a resource for everyone in British Columbia, and particularly the Black community and those engaging with the community on issues around multiculturalism and racial equity.
Understanding and acknowledging the diversity in the Black community is an important step towards building authentic connections. The report will also form part of our historical records. If you are interested in commenting on the report before it is published, please contact us through the contact form.
While the project was envisaged as a one-year project, we hope to continue with our engagement by creating connections and a platform for dialogue on issues around diverse (as well as shared) histories, identities, and experiences. Project participants highlighted that such spaces of connections are limited or inaccessible in British Columbia.
The project is facilitated by Alice Mũrage in partnership with BC Black History Awareness Society and funding from the Government of British Columbia (B.C. Multiculturalism Grant), the University of British Columbia (Partnership Recognition Fund) and in-kind contribution of the SFU African Studies Working Group. Deepest gratitude to the project’s advisory committee, research assistant- Benedicta Bawo, and Eva Sajoo for her initial contributions.
Image Credit: The image used throughout the African Ancestry Project is an original artwork of Marina Ashraf, ‘Disruption’ 2017. In this project, the image represents a disruption of identities- how our identity morphs and how we embody new and multiple identities.