By Neil Armstrong
|Photo contributed Bishop Ransford C. Jones of the Canadian Black Clergies & Allies|
The killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis in May 2020 was a “watershed moment” for Bishop Ransford C. Jones resulting in the founding of the Canadian Black Clergies & Allies to challenge systemic racism in Canada.
“I think it brought a new awareness, in terms of our contemporary setting. We know the struggle and the other Black struggles even from Martin Luther King, Jr. days coming right up and the different events that happened. But I think this one hit a nerve to many people that it just opened up a new awareness to where we are at as a society and how anti-Black racism still prevails in society and even in Canadian society,” says Jones who is the Chair of the organization and senior pastor of the Destiny Gospel Centre in Markham, Ontario.
Bishop Jones says Floyd’s death galvanized faith leaders to see how they could dialogue and actively intervene in these times.
On April 17, he will receive the leadership award at the 39th annual Black Business and Professional Association Harry Jerome Awards virtual presentation. This comes a day before the CBCA holds a virtual memorial service for people who have been affected by COVID-19, especially families that have lost loved ones.
Although Bishop Jones has been in the streets protesting since last year and having discussions with various people, he says the CBCA believes that for systemic racism and the infrastructure underpinning it to change there must be policy changes at the highest level: federal, provincial and municipal governments.
“We will be having some dialogue with them and we’re hoping that this awareness and this dialogue will be able to change some of those things.”
The CBCA is a collective multi-denominational and independent Black pastors and allies, that works collaboratively with a vision to create an environment of hope, justice, equality, and prosperity for Black Canadians.
Its focus is on dismantling the infrastructure of discrimination, prejudice, and anti-Black racism in the Canadian society.
Among its action items are family dynamics, systemic anti-Black racism (justice, law), economic development, educational initiatives, engage solutionists (churches, communities), and government and politics.
Bishop Jones says the CBCA wants to see reformation in the system and transformation, “even in our own Black community because we have our own endemic problems too and we want to be a part of that solution so working with our allies and our strategic partners and then we want to have a reconciliation among different groups.”
He says they want to see reconciliation in the broader community where there is diversity, inclusivity and everybody getting their rightful place and position to operate and to work.
Bishop Jones says CBCA welcomes every Black person and wants “all Black people to prosper and to fulfil their purpose wherever they are from.”
He is hoping that the programs the organization will be launching will be beneficial to Black Canadians and intends to measure their effectiveness in terms of how many people are reached and lives changed for the better.
Its allies include community-based organizations such as the Jamaican Canadian Association, Black Business and Professional Association, Tipping the Scales of Justice, and others, and it is open to white and Indigenous clergies.
Since its launch in late February, the CBCA has held discussions with the Office of the Mayor of Toronto and Erin O’Toole, the Leader of the Official Opposition of Canada and leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
On May 25, the anniversary of the death of George Floyd, there are plans to hold a virtual service as a commemoration.
Jones, who is from St. Mary, has been living in Canada for almost 30 years.