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Proclamations declaring Kwanzaa week in Toronto and Brampton a first for Canada

Kwanzaa, the seven-day holiday that celebrates family, community, and culture from African and African-American origins, started Wednesday. Buffalo began celebrations by raising the Black Liberation Flag in Niagara Square. In Canada, there are two proclamations declaring Kwanzaa week in Toronto and Brampton.

Credit Nick Lippa / WBFO
Canadian Kwanza Association representative DeWitt Lee III

Canadian Kwanza Association representative DeWitt Lee III said it’s important for the community to feel good about the holiday.

“Maybe you have a little Christmas fatigue so it’s hard to gear up for something else right after you put all of the Christmas ornaments away,” he said. “But it is important that we take advantage of every day because it’s only seven days. So, this is sort of an (encouragement) for people to say this is important and I need to make sure that my family and household honors it.”

A few other traditions include lighting seven candles that represent the principles of Kwanzaa and feasts. Children will be a bigger focus this year in Buffalo.

“These proclamations give the people of Canada, and specifically in Toronto and Brampton, sort of an authority and a right to be able to celebrate and to truly leave a legacy for future generations to come,” Lee said.

Buffalo Kwanzaa Committee Member Venetta Tashika Rhodes-Osi said Kwanzaa isn’t just a celebration. It’s an education on African culture.

“You’re learning about all of the different contributions. The people connected to it. The culture. The continent of Africa. Also here in America, the Black Liberaton Flag,” she said. “It’s just to show we are here, we are part of the fabric of America, and we are a part of the entire planet.”

The founder of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana Karenga, will make a keynote speech in Buffalo this Sunday at East High School starting at 7 p.m.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.