As Black Panther roared into the box office this weekend, Black Lives Matter Edmonton partnered with an African-Canadian youth non-profit organization, to send 100 Edmonton youths to see the blockbuster film at a private screening Monday evening.
Black Lives Matter raised $3,100 through a GoFundMe campaign in less than 24 hours, covering the ticket cost for people who might not have the means to go see it.
All were welcome at the family event, where two auditoriums at the Cineplex Odeon South Edmonton Cinemas were sold out.
Black Panther is a rare opportunity for black youths to see themselves represented as a protagonist, especially in a superhero franchise. It’s the first time Marvel has featured a black lead superhero, and the film’s cast, writers and director are also predominantly black.
It’s black people telling their own story, said Bashir Mohamed, a Black Lives Matter board member.
“This is a great opportunity for youth to see themselves on the screen and to see themselves as superheroes and creators,” he said. “And who knows? Maybe someone here could direct the next Black Panther.”
Organizers said they wanted this experience to bring the whole community together.
“To see someone that looks like you on the big screen in such a big context is just so inspiring,” said Lisa Cyuzuzo, a volunteer co-ordinator with the Youth Empowerment Group (YEG).
“Growing up, I don’t think I saw representation at this level,” she added. “You see, like, a few, maybe one person of colour, and then it’s like, ‘Oh great, there’s so much diversity.’
“I just really hope that because of this movie more comes out of it; we see more representation, not just in movies, but in all different contexts, as well,” Cyuzuzo said.
Fellow co-ordinator Msgana Asefaw agreed, saying she hopes that kids will want to become more involved in the community and be proud in their own skin.
“It lets children know that they can do that too, even though it might be hard,” she said.
“It’s inspiring, especially with this event. What we hope to do is inspire and to motivate and just to get people … thinking about themselves and to know that they are able to do anything regardless of the race or the colour of their skin.”
‘Every superhero is white’
Twelve-year-old Neesa-Chae Loxley was excited to see Black Panther Monday night.
“I feel like this movie is a really big step for Marvel because it’s the first movie where a whole bunch of their cast is black, and I feel like it’s very empowering,” she said.
“I like watching a movie where I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, they look like me.’ “
Precious Ayolade, 18, said the hype about the movie has been brewing for more than a year, and it finally feels good to be represented on screen.
“Let’s be honest, every superhero is white,” she said with a laugh.
“It feels that you can pursue what you want, no matter what your race is. Be proud of your background and your culture because no one can steal it from you. Just embrace it.”
It’s good for people to learn about African culture, she added.
“Every time you talk about Africa, you’re always like, ‘You guys live in bad places, a village. There’s nothing really pretty about Africa,’ … but [this movie] makes you feel good … Africa’s really pretty, if you take the time, open your mind and just take a look.”
Eight-year-old Jayden Kader came dressed like the Panther himself, and wanted to know more about the character.
“His claws and his mask, it’s different,” he said. “His mask has special powers and it has night vision on it.”
Monday’s screening event featured African and Caribbean food, a panel discussion and entertainment after the movie.
Spoken-word artist Omar Farah said the representation is nice.
“The fact that it’s a black man in power rather than just, ‘I’m super strong and I’m going to break things.’ I like the subtle undertones that are with it too,” he said.
“It’s not just about the superhero side of movies, where it’s like, ‘Oh, I got a bad guy, I’m going to beat him, and move on from it.’ I like the societal implications that come along with the movie.”
The Black Panther Challenge is a viral fundraising campaign that started in New York’s Harlem neighbourhood that has spread to Canada, raising money for children to attend a free, private screening of the film.
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Edmonton Alberta News Headlines
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Edmonton /ˈɛdməntən/ (About this sound listen) is the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Edmonton is on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, which is surrounded by Alberta’s central region. The city anchors the north end of what Statistics Canada defines as the “Calgary–Edmonton Corridor”.
The city had a population of 932,546 in 2016, making it Alberta’s second-largest city and Canada’s fifth-largest municipality. Also in 2016, Edmonton had a metropolitan population of 1,321,426, making it the sixth-largest census metropolitan area (CMA) in Canada. Edmonton is North America’s northernmost city that has a metropolitan population over one million. A resident of Edmonton is known as an Edmontonian.
Edmonton’s historic growth has been facilitated through the absorption of five adjacent urban municipalities (Strathcona, North Edmonton, West Edmonton, Beverly and Jasper Place) and a series of annexations ending in 1982.[ Known as the “Gateway to the North”, the city is a staging point for large-scale oil sands projects occurring in northern Alberta and large-scale diamond mining operations in the Northwest Territories.
Edmonton is a cultural, governmental and educational centre. It hosts a year-round slate of festivals, reflected in the nickname “Canada’s Festival City”. It is home to North America’s largest mall, West Edmonton Mall (the world’s largest mall from 1981 until 2004), and Fort Edmonton Park, Canada’s largest living history museum.
Further information: History of Edmonton and Timeline of Edmonton history
The earliest known inhabitants settled in the area that is now Edmonton around 3,000 BC and perhaps as early as 12,000 BC, when an ice-free corridor opened as the last glacial period ended and timber, water, and wildlife became available in the region.
In 1754, Anthony Henday, an explorer for the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), may have been the first European to enter the Edmonton area. His expeditions across the Canadian Prairies were mainly to seek contact with the aboriginal population for establishing the fur trade, as competition was fierce between the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company. By 1795, Fort Edmonton was established on the river’s north bank as a major trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company. The new fort’s name was suggested by John Peter Pruden after Edmonton, London, the home town of both the HBC deputy governor Sir James Winter Lake, and Pruden.
In 1876, Treaty 6, which includes what is now Edmonton, was signed between the Aboriginal peoples in Canada (or First Nations) and Queen Victoria as Queen of Canada, as part of the Numbered Treaties of Canada. The agreement includes the Plains and Woods Cree, Assiniboine, and other band governments of First Nations at Fort Carlton, Fort Pitt and Battle River. The area covered by the treaty represents most of the central area of the current provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The coming of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to southern Alberta in 1885 helped the Edmonton economy, and the 1891 building of the Calgary and Edmonton (C&E) Railway resulted in the emergence of a railway townsite (South Edmonton/Strathcona) on the river’s south side, across from Edmonton. The arrival of the CPR and the C&E Railway helped bring settlers and entrepreneurs from eastern Canada, Europe, U.S. and other parts of the world. The Edmonton area’s fertile soil and cheap land attracted settlers, further establishing Edmonton as a major regional commercial and agricultural centre. Some people participating in the Klondike Gold Rush passed through South Edmonton/Strathcona in 1897. Strathcona was North America’s northernmost railway point, but travel to the Klondike was still very difficult for the “Klondikers”, and a majority of them took a steamship north to the Yukon from Vancouver, British Columbia.
Jasper Avenue, ca. 1907
Incorporated as a town in 1892 with a population of 700 and then as a city in 1904 with a population of 8,350, Edmonton became the capital of Alberta when the province was formed a year later, on September 1, 1905. In November 1905, the Canadian Northern Railway (CNR) arrived in Edmonton, accelerating growth.
During the early 1900s, Edmonton’s rapid growth led to speculation in real estate. In 1912, Edmonton amalgamated with the City of Strathcona, south of the North Saskatchewan River; as a result, the city extended south of the North Saskatchewan River for the first time.
Just prior to World War I, the boom ended, and the city’s population declined from more than 72,000 in 1914 to less than 54,000 only two years later. Many impoverished families moved to subsistence farms outside the city, while others fled to greener pastures in other provinces. Recruitment to the Canadian army during the war also contributed to the drop in population. Afterwards, the city slowly recovered in population and economy during the 1920s and 1930s and took off again during and after World War II.
The Edmonton City Centre Airport opened in 1929, becoming Canada’s first licensed airfield.Originally named Blatchford Field in honour of former mayor Kenny Blatchford, pioneering aviators such as Wilfrid R. “Wop” May and Max Ward used Blatchford Field as a major base for distributing mail, food, and medicine to Northern Canada; hence Edmonton’s emergence as the “Gateway to the North”. World War II saw Edmonton become a major base for the construction of the Alaska Highway and the Northwest Staging Route.
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