A block party celebrating Black-owned local businesses brought a socially-distanced crowd to Trottier Bay Saturday afternoon.
The event, called the Block Party Vol. 1, was hosted by Winnipeg’s Black History Month Committee and local clothing store Zueike. Features included booths from business owners, a DJ, food trucks and speakers.
"We were fortunate to be able to do this, with everything happening with COVID we weren’t certain as to whether we’d be able to have an event this summer," she said. "But things have lightened up a little bit, and it created the space for this to happen."
Among those in attendance were NDP MLA Uzoma Asagwara and St. Norbert-Seine River city councillor and deputy mayor Markus Chambers.
Chambers, who also serves as vice-chair of the Winnipeg Police Board, said he was excited to see the community come out to "push up one another and not bring each other down."
"My heart is full seeing the number of people that are here today to support Black businesses," he said. "My heart is full. This is exactly what we need, in this time where everything that we see on TV, the pervasiveness of all the carnage that’s happening in the United States, finally we get some good news to see the number of people that are out today."
He finished his speech by remembering Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, whose death had been announced Friday, and with a message for local businesses.
"I know you’re going to sustain during this very difficult time of COVID, and you’re going to make yourself successful here in the city of Winnipeg," he said.
One of the vendors in attendance, local clothing brand Prynce Clothing, had custom-made hoodies with Black Panther on them commemorating Boseman in stock, along with masks, Black Lives Matter lawn signs and apparel baring his company’s logo.
"It’s important to be supportive, as a vendor and as a customer, as it’s because of things like this that we can keep going," he said.
Eman is inspired by his roots — he was born in Kigali, Rwanda — and said he carries his African culture in all of his creative works. He hopes others looking to achieve success in the city don’t give up on their passions.
"My best advice would be to follow your dreams and follow your heritage, whatever you believe in, Go for it," he said.