The GBC community celebrated the opening at an event organized by the Black Student Success Network (BSSN) on February 7. The date was chosen to align with Black History Month and the college's Black Futures programming. The BSSN Space is in room B130 at 200 King St. E., in an active area next to the food court on the lower level.
BSSN leadership in advocating for space for Black students
Jennifer Grant, Associate Vice-President of the Office of Anti-Racism, Equity and Human Rights Services (OAREHRS), lauded BSSN as a leader, offering one of the first Black student-centred support programs in Ontario. Launched in 2016, BSSN provides mentoring, tutoring, social activities and resources to Black students from every academic area of the college.
“BSSN has been a leader in this work,” Grant said. “Don’t look at today as a moment, but as an experience over a period of time where people have fought for this, have won this, and continue to strive for more.”
‘It’s going to change the game for Black students.’
BSSN Co-ordinator Abisola Asha highlighted the tremendous amount of advocacy and behind-the-scenes work that happened to make the new space happen.
“This space came out of consultations to see what our students needed to thrive and excel at this school, and it’s all about building community,” she said. “We did have to advocate for the space and work with many senior leaders and different communities to get this going.
“I’m super excited for the space. I think it’s going to change the game for Black students. In between classes, they have somewhere to hang out with their friends, to do homework, or consult with me or a career or academic advisor who can help them navigate the college.”
George Brown College President Dr. Gervan Fearon thanked BSSN and the students who contributed their opinions and ideas.
“By engaging in this work, you are not only helping one another but are shaping the success of future students,” he said.
The Black Futures Initiative was created to support GBC’s Scarborough Charter commitments and the goals of the Anti-Racism Action Plan. This initiative will build on the work of BSSN to provide further support for students as well as employees, faculty and allies. Together, Black Futures and BSSN will collaboratively work to cultivate a supportive environment for the entire community.
“The inauguration of the BSSN space and launch of the Black Futures Initiative represent significant milestones in our college’s journey towards a truly equitable future,” Grant said.
“We are co-creating an environment where each of you can choose to or dare to show up as your best self and in your whole self every time and have spaces that honour and affirm you."