Humber College celebrates Earth Month to remember Black, Indigenous Peoples

Mar 23, 2023 | Culture, Life

It has been 11 years since Isaac Crosby, a Black Ojibwa Humber College graduate, last stepped foot onto the North campus.

Crosby, a professional urban agriculturist, was invited to teach a workshop on gardening and Indigenous agricultural techniques at an Earth Month event hosted by Humber’s Office of Sustainability, the Black Student Support and Engagement (BSSE) Program, and Indigenous Education & Engagement (IE&E) on March 21, 2023.

Bucket of soil with shovels in them, with students using the tools.
Students are learning how to plant their own seeds in the Centre for Urban Ecology at Humber College. Photo credit: Maegan Lee

Seed, Soil and Sun was a hands-on event where students and faculty learned how to plant seeds to grow fruits and vegetables. They were able to take home the planters they worked on, with the guidance of Crosby.

People at separate tables watching instructor
Crosby teaches students and faculty on how to plant seeds in their planters. Photo credit: Maegan Lee

The event did not only focus on gardening. Crosby, who comes from the Ojibwa of Anderdon in Southwest Ontario, discussed the importance of remembering the history between Black and Indigenous Peoples.

“There has always been a friendship, a companionship with our people,” he said. “No one’s really showing that. That’s kind of the sad part. Because we have such a great history, that is overlooked.”

Black and Indigenous peoples came together to fight an oppressor, but in the end, Crosby said the oppressor fought back and separated their communities.

Male teacher pointing to TV for students at separate tables
Isaac Crosby teaches students about Black Indigenous Peoples and the history behind their relationship. Photo credit: Maegan Lee

Despite this, he wants people to remember the many people and families that are just like his.

Crosby said students should start engaging in sustainable habits, like growing their own food.

“It is 2023 and our food prices are through the roof,” he said. “Start by growing what you love and what you like to eat first.”

Sustainable habits are one of the core ideas highlighted in Humber’s Earth Month celebration.

Nouran Nour, the communications and events assistant at the Office of Sustainability at Humber, said raising environmental awareness and consciousness about nature was their goal this Earth Month.

“We want to have important conversations with people and engage them in climate and sustainability action,” Nour said. “While doing so, we’re also making sure people are not anxious and worried about the impact of climate change.”

Nour said all of the events they host promote the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which the United Nations (UN) has started to implement.

The SDGs outlined by the UN are part of a plan to promote the eradication of poverty in order to begin improving health and education and reducing inequalities, while tackling the challenges of climate change.

The Seed, Soil and Sun event reflects Goal 15, Life on Land. This goal works to “protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems,” according to the UN’s website.

Many students attended the event, including Akaila Reid, a student in the Child and Youth Care Advanced Diploma Program.

Reid attended the event to learn more about sustainable habits and begin to get involved more in gardening and planting.

“I didn’t really know how to start,” she said. “So this was actually really educational for me.”

Reid said she wants to focus on being more sustainable with food, especially regarding food waste.

She said planting and growing her own food will help her achieve that goal.

“This will help my family, personally, and sharing this with others is something I definitely want to do,” Reid said.

Female students at table putting soil into planters
Humber College students are gaining a hands-on experience at the Seed, Soil, and Sun event. Photo credit: Maegan Lee

Earth Month is typically celebrated in April, however, Humber celebrates it in March.

Nour said the Office of Sustainability hosts Earth Month in March, because April is a busy month for most students due to final exams and assignments.

“During March, students are still not too busy, and we want to give them enough time and opportunity to engage in the event,” she said. “No one’s going to want to come in and plant while writing their exams, it’s too stressful.”

Nour said she hopes students will not only engage in these events, but also learn from them and share their knowledge with others.

While engaging in sustainability is important, Crosby said students need to have a deeper talk surrounding Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous agriculture techniques.

“I know people are all about the trending Three Sisters: Corn, Beans, and Squash, but there’s way more,” Crosby said. “I want to see people go further than the Three Sisters.

“Look more and more in depth to the native plants and native food sources that we have in this country called Canada,” he said.