Monday, 2 September 2019

100 Black Youth to Attend Largest Black Tech Conference in Toronto

By Neil Armstrong

Aina-Nia Ayo'dele Grant speaking at the Emancipation Month Sankofa Ceremony at City Hall on August 29, 2019

The City of Toronto’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit will be sponsoring 100 Black youth to attend the BFUTR Tech Summit, the largest ever gathering of Black tech professionals in Canada.

Aina-Nia Ayo’dele Grant, manager of the CABR Unit, made the announcement at the Emancipation Month Sankofa Ceremony held at City Hall on August 29.

Mayor John Tory said he recently had a roundtable specifically provided for the Anti-Black Racism Plan on black businesses to explore “what is it that is holding people back, what can we do to provide that little support and lift to make sure those entrepreneurs can be successful in the city.”

The next roundtable will take place at the tech conference later this year and will focus on black professionals in the tech sector.

“There is absolutely no reason why we can’t see leadership there, success there, startups there, investments taking place there that are from and of the Black community in the tech sector which is booming so much in our city right now. It’s a matter of will, it’s a matter of recognizing the people that exist and allowing them to achieve their full potential,” he said.

Mayor John Tory speaking at the Emancipation Month Sankofa Ceremony

Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson speaking at the Emancipation Month Sankofa Ceremony

Also speaking at the ceremony was Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson who is also the Chair of the Economic and Development Committee of the City of Toronto. He said the BFUTR Tech Summit will be held on October 25.

“This conference will be the largest gathering of Black tech professionals in Canada. It will present a dynamic networking opportunity, innovation, innovative ideas and career development sessions led by industry experts. I encourage all of you who have an interest in tech, and even if you don’t, because tech is here and innovation is here , I think you may as well experience the opportunity,” said Thompson about the summit which will be held at the Westin Harbour Castle hotel.

Tory said Emancipation Day is about “recognizing the incredible journey, the often tragic journey but the journey with so many twists and turns that has led us to the place where we are still speaking about equality and justice, and it is a journey that is ongoing, it’s far from reached.”

Thompson said that as the only member of council that is Black there isn’t a day that his shoulder isn’t “weighted down with some degree of issues related to the community, specifically amongst all the other things I have to do.”

 “We need more of us on council,” he said.

The deputy mayor commended the team of CABR Unit on the work that is has been doing describing it as “truly excellent work to bring about change.”

“We have to be the change that we need, we have to bring those who are interested in making change with us because when you involve us we make this place a better place. Without involving us it’s not a better place.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Wesley Crichlow of the Partnership and Accountability Circle (PAC) said through direct and ongoing engagement with the CABR Unit, PAC provides advice to the City of Toronto.

It does so by providing guidance and advice to the CABR Unit staff in planning, implementation and evaluation with regard to the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism.

Dr. Crichlow said it is fitting that the CABR Unit can be embracing August as Emancipation Month in the spirit of the International Decade for People of African Descent proclaimed by the UN General Assembly which began in 2015 and will be observed until 2024. The theme for the Decade is “Recognition. Justice. Development.”

“But Emancipation Month is not freedom. Emancipation Day celebrations remain an ongoing and profound critique of the state and we cannot have emancipation without reparation. African Americans upon their freedom were promised 40 acres and a mule. When Black Loyalists arrived in Nova Scotia they were promised 10 acres, a cow and two sheep. Although Canada and the US belonged to Indigenous People these lands were still promised to folks.”

He noted that in what is being represented a major victory in the fight to make Europe pay reparation for the brutal Transatlantic Slave Trade, “the umbrella University of the West informs us that the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom has agreed to begin making reparations in the value of Sterling $200 million for its part in the English slave trade to the Caribbean.”

Crichlow said Emancipation Month should be a reminder of the unfinished business of the Canadian apology for slavery, property ownership and reparation. Emancipation Month should be seen as the linchpin for the furthering of that conversation.

Also participating in the ceremony were Surranna Sandy, a member of PAC; and
Mohamed Shuriye and Anthony Morgan of the CABR Unit who presented on the first year of the Unit’s work and Emancipation Month.

 Ginelle Skerritt and sipho kwaku conducted the opening ritual and the closing procession “Journeying Together Towards Emancipation” to the Diversity Garden behind City Hall.

Quammie Rudi Williams and company shared a musical presentation and Sonia Godding-Togobo presented a premiere of her short film about the CABR Unit entitled “A Long Time Coming.”

Dr. Wesley Chrichlow speaking at the Emancipation Day Sankofa Ceremony

Elders Ginelle Skerritt and sipho kwaku performing the opening ritual

Musical presentation by Quammie Rudi Williams & Company

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