Black community looking for more engagement with Black History Month in Renfrew County
Ro Nwosu has lived in Renfrew County for more than a decade, and has mixed feelings about her experience with the community.
"There's been some really scary points to living in the valley, but some really joyful points as well," she says.
As the calendar turns to February and Black History Month arrives in Renfrew County, Nwosu believes more community engagement is needed.
Algonquin College's Pembroke campus has events planned throughout February to celebrate and acknowledge Black History Month, and the county plans to highlight Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.
But when Nwosu looks for activities to engage her son with locally, she says she often finds herself heading out of Renfrew County and into Ottawa.
"There's not really anything that goes on in town unfortunately," Nwosu tells CTV News.
"I would love to see that more so in the community, the township taking initiative."
Nwosu runs a yoga studio in Arnprior and she sat on the town's diversity advisory committee, but as a Black woman living in rural Ontario, she also says she has faced racial discrimination.
"I still find it's definitely getting better, more people are aware, the community is changing which is really great."
Nwosu admits that she can feel isolated in her community as a Black woman.
According to the 2021 census, just 710 people in Renfrew County, out of the county's population of 106,365 identified as Black. That accounts for 0.6 per cent of the county's total population.
"Do I feel like that number in Renfrew County participates, shops in the area, participates at local events, are out and about? No," Nwosu says.
"I'd love to see more people talk about Renfrew County as a spot they'd want to move to. I'd love to see more Black-owned businesses or different people in the area."
To celebrate Black History Month, Nwosu says she plans to reintroduce her culture to her son, and bring awareness back as to why the month exists.
She also plans to continue to support the Black community.
"I love being able to express joy, to lift up others that have been doing really great in the community," she says.
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