With the theme of “Afrofuturism: Reimagining Climate Change from a Black Lens,” the Black Students in Public Affairs Association’s upcoming conference on January 27 and 28 will bring together a discussion of climate change and Afrofuturism.

The conference, which will be held at the National Gallery of Canada, will feature a networking reception, guest speakers, and a climate change case competition.

“We chose Afrofuturism because it’s a way for the Black community to really talk about our future and reimagine a future in which we have a voice,” says Nikayda Harris, who cofounded the Black Students in Public Affairs Association. “We thought it would be a fascinating intersection to explore how Afrofuturism could be applied to public affairs and specifically one of the greatest issues of our time: climate change.”

The conference will feature guest speakers, including Dr. Vern Sighroy, Diane Watson, Andrea Pierce and personnel from the U.S. Embassy. There will also be networking opportunities with M.P Greg Fergus, Minister Ahmed Hussen, Angela Cassie, High Commissioner Sherry Tross and Rawlson King, to name a few.

Harris says the conference is particularly important because climate change disproportionately impacts the Black community in the Global South.

“Usually when were talking about climate change and looking at the people who are at the forefront of the movement, they tend to be white and not people of colour, which is really fascinating because the impacts of climate change are having more adverse effects for Black communities,” she says. “We wanted to create a space for students to come and brainstorm and learn as much is possible and build up resilience for the next steps.”

The Black Students in Public Affairs Association was created in 2020 by Nikayda Harris and Fariba Al Hassan, both students in the Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management (BPAPM) program. The group’s LinkedIn page describes the organization as providing “support for Black students to explore and develop their interest in public affairs. In addition to providing students with the resources to pursue their future career endeavours, our mission is to create the next generation of Black changemakers through mentorship, scholarship, and community.”

Harris says the conference is just the beginning of the conversation about climate change: the group is also planning workshops.

“There is only so much you can do in a two-day conference. But the most important thing is to encourage them to take the resources they have and the tools they have in their arsenal and make grassroots changes in whatever community they are in.”

You can find the Black Students in Public Affairs Association on Instagram and LinkedIn at @BSPACarleton. More information about the conference can be found here.

Monday, January 23, 2023 in
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