"Now more than ever, it is extremely critical and important to have positive spaces for people of African Descent to reimagine who they are, who they want to be and what impact they want to have within their local communities and the world." Photo: members of Afro Van Connect.

Afro Van Connect, the Vancouver group dedicated to empowering youth of African descent, is getting set to host the virtual Black Spaces Symposium in July.

Organizers say that bringing artists together with professors, practitioners and scholars at the symposium will allow participants to share experiences and knowledge for community building and development.

“These Black spaces we are creating will allow young creatives to come and express themselves, share ideas and connect,” says Afro Van Connect founder and executive director Dae Shields in a media release. “They are established to create opportunities for people of African Descent to access equipment, education, training, networks, and opportunities, empowering them to creatively and economically flourish, building on their unique gifts and perspectives from their heritage and diaspora cultural experiences.”

With no cultural hubs, community infrastructure or neighbourhoods directly serving the specific needs of people of African descent in British Columbia, organizers say the symposium will help to create awareness around the necessity of Black spaces. It will also help highlight the various resources within communities and develop practical solutions to alleviate inequities.

“As an artist, it is my responsibility to be a voice for my community. I believe it is important to use my platform to highlight injustices and inequities in the hopes of creating awareness and solutions,” says Afro Van Connect co-founder and director Kor Kase. “As an artist of African descent, I believe it’s crucial to share the experiences of people of African descent, the injustices our communities face to this day and showing the impact that people of African descent have had on Canadian culture, and cultures around the world.”

Founded by Dae Shields and Moses Andeku, Afro Van Connect was created in 2019 to power the voices of African descent youth through conversation, collaboration, creation and performance.

The Black Spaces Symposium will take place virtually July 23-26. Visit afrovanconnect.com for tickets and more information.