Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Black AIDS Prevention Organization Celebrates its 30th Anniversary

The Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black CAP), the largest service provider of its kind in Canada, is celebrating a milestone and will also honour its founders.

On November 21 at 7:00 p.m., the organization will hold its Joyful Giving 30th Anniversary Gala inside the Teck Suite of Galleries: Earth’s Treasures at the Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queens Park in Toronto.

For the past 30 years, Black CAP, a volunteer-driven, charitable, not-for-profit community-based organization, has worked in partnership with institutions and individuals who support in principle and practice its mission, philosophy and activities.

Focused on curbing the HIV epidemic in Toronto’s African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) communities, its mission is to reduce the spread of HIV infection within these communities and to enhance the quality of life of ACB people living with, or affected by, HIV/AIDS. 

These communities are experiencing disproportionate cases of new infections which underscore the importance of Black CAP’s work. Only 1 in 35 people living in Canada are ACB, however, 1 in 7 people living with HIV in Canada are African, Caribbean or Black people. Issues of HIV-related stigma and discrimination, homophobia, anti-Black racism, immigration, poverty, and barriers to social inclusion impact their lives.

The Joyful Giving 30th Anniversary Celebration is a charity event aimed at raising funds to support clients who are new to Canada and grapple with mental health issues, medical costs, food insecurity, housing, immigration and other issues.

The celebration happens days before World AIDS Day – December 1 – which this year has the theme "Communities make the difference." The commemoration of World AIDS Day is an important opportunity to recognize the essential role that communities have played and continue to play in the AIDS response at the international, national and local levels. 

The Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention is a community of outreach experts, support specialists, and activists dedicated to improving health outcomes for ACB people who are living with, and affected by HIV. Its work is guided by the motto “Because All Black Peoples’ Lives are Important,” which serves as a reminder that ACB people are at especially high risk and are at even greater risk of experiencing negative outcomes when they are not connected to care and services.

For more information about the Joyful Giving 30th Anniversary Celebration, contact
 Nief Neamatt at 416-977-9955 or by email at n.neamatt@black-cap.com

Black Authors Busy Launching Their Books During the Fall

By Neil Armstrong

Cynthia Reyes and Lauren Reyes-Grange at their book launch at A Different Booklist Cultural Centre on October 10, 2019

This fall has been a busy time for several Black and Caribbean authors who since its beginning have launched new books covering topics ranging from gardening, family, friendship, hair, history, racism and education to African Canadian leadership.

Former award-winning journalist, Cynthia Reyes, launched her new memoir, “Twigs in My Hair,” and the latest addition to her bestselling series of children’s book, “ Makes a New Friend,” on October 10 at the Black and Caribbean Book Affair at A Different Booklist Cultural Centre in Toronto.

It was a family affair as Reyes was joined by her co-author and daughter, Lauren Reyes-Grange, and “Twigs in My Hair” photographer and former award-winning journalist, her husband Hamlin Grange.

This unusual book launch brought together a family of outstanding writers and storytellers. Lauren is the co-author of “Myrtle Makes a New Friend,” the third book in the children’s series.

“Twigs in My Hair” is Cynthia’s third memoir. Her previous two memoirs, A” Good Home,” and “An Honest House,” are critically acclaimed bestsellers. This time, she explores her lifelong passion for gardens and nature and the surprising relationships and events that ensue. It is a humorous and profoundly personal story and a unique twist of the memoir genre which is complemented by photographs by Hamlin.

The Myrtle story, which teaches children about friendship and encourages them to “love their shell,” was written 28 years ago but the first book was published in 2017 to the delight of children and parents around the world. The Myrtle character was written by Cynthia for her nearly 5-year-old daughter, Lauren.

In Twigs, readers will meet a variety of interesting creatures, both animal and human, some competing for gardening produce or gardening glory.

Elsewhere in the city on the same day, Rachel Manley launched her book, “The Fellowship,” which tells the story of Jessica, the recipient of a prestigious Gunter Fellowship who leaves behind Jamaica, the only country she’s ever known, for Cambridge, Massachusetts, near the end of the twentieth century. In her fellowship year, she is to write a memoir about her father, a professor of mathematics at the University of the West Indies.

Attuned to watching for meaning below the surface of things, Jessica learns about the women with whom she shares her year, twenty women, all in middle age, all accomplished — considerably more accomplished than her slim volumes of poetry and one memoir allow her to feel. 

Olive Senior signing a copy of her book for Cherita Girvan-Campbell, president of Arts and Culture Jamaica Inc.

Olive Senior launched her children’s picture book “Boonoonoonous Hair!” on October 12 as part of the book affair.

Illustrated by the acclaimed artist Laura James, the book is about a young girl who learns to love her difficult-to-manage, voluminous and boonoonoonous hair.

On October 10, CBC Radio’s Ideas program aired the Margaret Laurence Lecture presented by Senior which was recorded at the Central Library in Halifax in May.

Since 1987, the Writers' Trust of Canada has selected a prominent Canadian author to deliver a lecture on the topic: "A Writer's Life."

Senior, the seventh of ten children, was born in 1941 and raised in rural Jamaica. After graduating high school, she came briefly to Canada as a Commonwealth Scholar to attend Carleton University in Ottawa. In the early 1990s, she moved to Canada full-time, settling in Toronto. 

Senior has published 18 books of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children's literature. Her work has been translated into several languages worldwide and has won many awards for her work, including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and F.J. Bressani Literary Prize

Meanwhile, a discussion of some of the themes in “African Canadian Leadership: Continuity, Transition, and Transformation,” co-edited by Tamari Kitossa, Erica S. Lawson and Philip S.S. Howard, was held on October 15 at the book affair.

Challenging the myth of African Canadian leadership "in crisis," this book opens a broad vista of inquiry into the many and dynamic ways leadership practices occur in Black Canadian communities. 

It explores topics including Black women’s contributions to African Canadian communities, the Black Lives Matter movement, Black LGBTQ, HIV/AIDS advocacy, motherhood and grieving, mentoring, and anti-racism, contributors appraise the complex history and contemporary reality of blackness and leadership in Canada.

Kamala-Jean Gopie, author of The Story of Our School

The new works of Cynthia Reyes and Kamala-Jean Gopie, and Bernadette Gabay Dyer’s book published in 2018 were featured at “A Literary Evening – A Tribute to Miss Lou” organized by Arts and Culture Jamaica Inc. at the Consulate General of Jamaica on October 17.

Gopie’s “The Story of Our School” relates how the school that she built in Malawi became a reality.

The philanthropist and former educator recently returned from Malawi where she presented copies of the book to the students at the school.

 With the help of Josephine Vaccaro-Chang, a publisher of children’s books who sent books to the school, they collaborated to create the book for the children at the school.  

Bernadette Gabay Dyer, author of Chasing the Banyan Wind

In “Chasing the Banyan Wind,” Dyer introduces readers to the mid 1920s when an English family, Jonathan and Wilemina Gunn, and their two young children, Dunstan and Eliza emigrate to the Caribbean island of Jamaica. 

With help from locals they build a home in a remote rural location on the island's north coast. Previous perceptions of the island do not prepare them for the reality of the island's diverse English-speaking population that includes Negroes, East Indians, Chinese, Jews, Europeans and Syrians.

The 2019 Black and Caribbean Book Affair at A Different Booklist Cultural Centre also included book launches by these authors:

Nadia L. Hohn at the launch of her book A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice on September 14, 2019

Nadia L. Hohn – “A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice” illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes. It is a new picture book that celebrates the iconic Jamaican-Canadian poet, folklorist, writer and educator who was born 100 years ago.

Rabindranath Maharaj – “Fatboy Fall Down,” a novel about a man trying to understand his place in the world.

Photo credit: Geeta Raghunanan    Morgan Campbell of the Toronto Star, right, hosting Douglas Gary Freeman's book launch at A Different Booklist Cultural Centre.

Douglas Gary Freeman’s novel “Exile Blues” which Canada’s 7th Parliamentary Poet Laureate, George Elliott Clarke, describes as “a fictionalized autobiography at its best. It’s the novel Malcolm X might have written had he not suffered martyrdom.”

Calvin Lawrence with Miles Howe – “Black Cop: My 36 years in police work, and my career-ending experiences with official racism.” Lawrence’s story lays bare the key failures of Canadian police organizations that operate on the basis that only white Canadians are entitled to the rights promised to all by the rule of law and the Canadian Charter of Rights.

Photo credit: Miguel San Vicente   Calvin Lawrence at his book launch on October 11, 2019

Nina Reid-Maroney, Boulou Ebanda de B’Béri and Wanda Thomas Bernard – “Women in the “Promised Land”: Essay in African Canadian History” reframes Canadian history through the lens of African Canadian women’s lived experience.


Upcoming Book Launches at A Different Booklist Cultural Centre, 777-779 Bathurst Street in Toronto in November:

“Another Mother” by Ross Kenneth Urken on November 1, 7:00 p.m. A Jewish young man entering adulthood realizes there is so much he has yet to learn about the woman who lent him her accent and with whom he shared an unlikely kindred spirit.

“Behind the Frontline” by Alana Jones on November 8, 6:30-8:30 p.m. with special musical guest Jäjé (HoneyJam 2019 alumna). It is “a fictionalized glimpse into the lives of those individuals providing  support on the Frontlines and the individuals receiving support from Frontline workers.”

“America The Beautiful and Violent: Black Youth and Neighbourhood Trauma in Chicago” by Dexter R. Voisin on November 22, 7:00 p.m. The book provides a compelling and social-justice-oriented analysis of current trends in neighbourhood violence in light of the historical and structural factors that have reproduced entrenched patterns of racial and economic inequality.

AND, Congratulations to Amanda Parris, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama for her book “Other Side of the Game” published by Playwrights Canada Press. She is one of seven English-language winners who will receive their awards in Ottawa on December 11 and 12. They will also present public readings of their works then.

Amanda Parris and Itah Sadu at the launch of "Other Side of the Game" at A Different Booklist Cultural Centre on May 21, 2019
 Amanda launched her book at A Different Booklist Cultural Centre in May 2019.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Louise Bennett-Coverley Celebrated at York University

By Neil Armstrong

From left: Lillian Allen, Olive Senior, Clive Forrester, Pamela Appelt and Honor Ford-Smith at York University, Toronto on September 17, 2019

Scholar, poet and playwright Honor Ford-Smith says no other performer before Bob Marley was as loved by Jamaicans of all classes and race than Louise Bennett.

“Though most people have a general sense of her as a performer who advocated for the Jamaican language and culture few are aware of the breadth of her contribution and the context within which she worked,” Ford-Smith said while speaking about Bennett’s achievements in the context of her time.

She was speaking on a panel about the life and legacy of Louise Bennett-Coverley which included Olive Senior, Lillian Allen, Clive Forrester and Pamela Appelt at an event organized by the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora at York University in Toronto on September 17.

Ford-Smith said Miss Lou came to voice in the context of worldwide anti-colonial resistance, the most vibrant and varied social movement of the last century. When Bennett was born in 1919 European colonial powers directly controlled about eighty per cent of the globe.

“That this is no longer the case has to with the achievements of the social movements with which her life and work intersected. Bennett’s work overlapped with several generations of men who are far better known nationally than she is for their critique of the ideas and practices that underpinned the colonial regime.”

One such writer was Aimé Césaire, the celebrated Martinican founder of Negritude, the poet, playwright and patriarch of the transformation of the French Antilles.

She said Bennett’s work unlike Césaire was marked by the use of laughter as “a weapon and with it she broke through those bars of hunger and poverty that created those prisons of despair again and again over a period of more than sixty years.”

“Never a sterile spectator she insisted on breaking the barriers between spectator and participants in a search for a social progress and a social unity in a deeply divided island. Her words pick sense out of the nonsense of calamity to reveal a sea of vibrant possibility created by the people that she loved.”

The professor said Bennett’s work was part of the process of voicing the intellectual and cultural ideas of the Caribbean. She noted that the difference between Bennett and men like CLR James, Césaire and others was that she was a woman and one of the only black women of her generation and race to come to visible and popular voice in the context of the anti-colonial struggle.

Ford-Smith noted that unlike Césaire and James she chose to speak from the position of a working class peasant woman and to speak in the language that they spoke. She was neither working class nor peasant but that was what her persona became.

She said Miss Lou’s brilliance was that she did not do this and the price that she paid for it was that she was not taken seriously as an intellectual until quite recently.

Ford-Smith said Bennett was supported by two significant developments which are often forgotten in describing her trajectory. First, she was supported by a popular performance tradition which was considered in its time quite vulgar and which had developed a significant following by the 1930s.

She noted that Miss Lou’s early career was supported by the women’s movement of the time. Black feminists like Amy Bailey, Mary Morris Knibb and Madame de Mena Aiken of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) had fought for women’s political rights. This movement became subsumed into the Jamaica Federation of Women for whom Bennett worked as a kind of cultural animator.

 Senior, a poet and author, said the early decision by Bennett to give voice to the ordinary people of Jamaica was one that she boldly defended.

“In the process Miss Lou opened the gates for not only a long list of spoken word artists and performers but was also a profound influence in freeing up the so-called literary heavyweights from the straightjacket of conformity. Miss Lou did not say we must throw out or disrespect the English language, what she affirmed was that we should also claim respect for our own language alongside our inherited English tongue.”

Senior said this opened the gateway for writers such as herself who was struggling to find “our own voices, one that would allow us to be true to ourselves and to the culture we come from while writing our way into a global culture.”

She said it is important to consider Miss Lou as a teacher who had subtle messages enshrined in her own persona and activities – “the legacy she bequeathed to us as gifts in the form of story, the gift of memory, history and ancestry, the gift of manners and broughtupsy, the gift of social harmony.”

Senior said the greatest monument to Miss Lou “that we can create is this -- to demonstrate by gesture and by example the value of all human life, to create stories for our youth that are woven from the fibre of the everyday strengthened with the warp of ancestral wisdom, to find the means to allow youth themselves to tell their own stories as a way of finding the lessons within.”

Senior said Miss Lou must not be seen as simply an icon for that is no more than a picture, a surface representation of a revered person.

She said perhaps then the conversation should be about Miss Lou as a national hero, not a hero of deeds but of words, words that are mightier than the sword.

Forrester, a professor of literature and language at the University of Waterloo who developed two courses at York University in 2008, examined the journey of the Jamaican language from the plantation to where it could be at the end of this year.

Forrester noted that there were people developing the Jamaican identity in 1865 and between that time and 1962 Louise Bennett would come to prominence.

Forrester said in November this year there will be a petition opened on the website of the Office of the Prime Minister in Jamaica requesting that people sign it to indicate whether they want Jamaican to be an official language.

Professor Michelle A. Johnson, moderator of the panel discussion examining the life and legacy of Louise Bennett-Coverley (Miss Lou) on September 17 at York University

Allen, a dub poet and professor, said Miss Lou is one of the most significant and important individuals to be produced by Jamaica.

She performed a poem she wrote as a tribute to Miss Lou 25 years ago recognizing the influence that the late cultural icon had on her, Bob Marley, and other reggae artists.

Sharing her memories of Bennett-Coverley, Pamela Appelt, co-executor of the Louise Bennett Estate, said in 1990 while a judge of the Court of Canadian Citizenship she administered the oath of citizenship to Miss Lou who immigrated to Toronto with her husband, Eric Coverley in 1985.

 Miss Lou lived in Toronto, Canada for 21 years and died there on July 26, 2006.

[An edited version of this story was published in the North American Weekly Gleaner, September 26-October 2, 2019.]

Liberals Plan to Make Citizenship More Affordable

By Neil Armstrong

The Liberal Party of Canada says it will make applying for Canadian citizenship free for permanent residents. 

This is outlined in its 2019 campaign platform “Forward: A Real Plan for the Middle Class” that was unveiled by Justin Trudeau on September 29 in Mississauga, Ontario.

“With the right supports, immigrants are able to get to work, help build up our communities, and grow our local economies in short order. But arriving in Canada is just the first step on a long journey to citizenship,” it states.

The Liberals say becoming a citizen allows new immigrants to fully participate in Canadian society, and the process of granting citizenship is a government service, not something that should be paid for with a user fee. 

“To make citizenship more affordable, we will make the application process free for those who have fulfilled the requirements needed to obtain it. We will continue to welcome more people to Canada, with a focus on attracting highly skilled workers.”

The party says immigration helps to make Canada more diverse – and more successful. It noted that in communities across the country, new Canadians work hard – “teaching our children, caring for us when we’re sick, starting new businesses, and creating good jobs.”

These contributions are needed now more than ever before. As people in Canada grow older and family sizes grow smaller, many businesses and communities struggle to find enough workers, putting the services people rely on – and Canada’s strong economy – at risk, the party says.

“To keep our economy strong and growing, we will move forward with modest and responsible increases to immigration, with a focus on welcoming highly skilled people who can help build a stronger Canada.”

If re-elected the Liberals will also continue to work with the government of the United States to modernize the Safe Third Country Agreement.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives say they will set immigration levels consistent with what is in Canada’s best interests.

Andrew Scheer says he will work to immediately restore fairness, order, and compassion in the immigration system.

“I will safeguard and emphasize economic immigration. I will stand up for families and ensure that spouses and children can be reunited. We will improve language training to ensure greater proficiency in English or French and newcomers’ ability to succeed economically and socially.”

The Conservatives say they will ensure that the system “prioritizes people facing true persecution – focus government sponsorship on the victims of the four atrocity crimes – and restore integrity to our system by supporting the consistent application of fair rules.”

They plan to “close the loophole in the Safe-Third Country Agreement that allows some people to skip the line and avoid the queue” and said they will do more to promote private sponsorships of refugees.

Meanwhile, the NDP says it will make sure that ther immigration policies and levels meet Canada’s labour force needs and recognize people’s experiences, contributions, and ties to Canada.
It plans to work with the provinces to address gaps in settlement services and improve foreign credentials recognition.

New Democrats say family reunification should be a priority and they will end the unfair cap on applications to sponsor parents and grandparents, and take on the backlogs that delay reunification for years.

The party says it will protect newcomers by taking on unscrupulous immigration consultants, ensuring that the industry is regulated by the government. 
“As the world experiences an unprecedented refugee crisis, Canada also has a vital role to play in resettling people forced out of their homes by conflict, persecution, and disasters. But under the Liberal government, the backlog of asylum seekers is set to more than double in the next few years.”

It says a New Democrat government will fix the system to get rid of the backlog and work with Canadians to resettle refugees in our communities and ensure that they are given the support they need to build successful lives and new homes here in Canada.

They will also “promote safety, security, and efficiency in Canada’s border communities by suspending the Safe Third Country agreement with the United States, allowing people to make asylum claims at official border crossings.”

In the meantime the Greens say Canada must review its immigration policy, especially with the demographic imbalance escalating to the point where younger generations will be required to bear the burden of supporting an aging population. 

“A Green government will make sure that all migrants are supported in achieving their hopes and ambitions as new Canadians.”

The party says it will ensure professionals being considered for immigration have the licensing requirements for their professions clearly explained before entry.

It would also work with professional associations to create a robust system for evaluating the education and training credentials of immigrants against Canadian standards, with the goal of expediting accreditation and expanding professional opportunities for immigrants.

The Greens would eliminate the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and address labour shortages by increasing immigration, working with employers to establish paths to permanent residency.

It would establish a program to process the estimated 200,000 people living in Canada without official status, providing a pathway to permanent residency for those who qualify.

The party would also terminate Canada’s Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States.
The Greens would improve the pathway for international students and foreign workers to Canadian permanent residency and citizenship.

In its platform the party says it will speed up family reunification, especially reuniting children with their parents, and increase funding of multicultural associations providing immigrant support programs including language programs.

[An edited version of this story has been published in the North American Weekly Gleaner, October 10-16, 2019.]

Black Canadians are Gearing Up for the Federal Election

By Neil Armstrong

Photo contributed   Mark Brown, communications officer of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU)

When Black Canadians go to the polls on October 21 they will have the chance to re-elect Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, as Prime Minister or to elect Andrew Scheer, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada; Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada; or Maxime Bernier, Leader of the People’s Party of Canada; or Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada; or Yves-François Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Québécois.

The six leaders participated in two official debates organized by the Leaders’ Debates Commission. The English language debate took place on October 7 and the French on October 10 – both at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.

In a press release in July Operation Black Vote Canada (OBVC) noted that it organized meetings with the leaders of Canada’s four main political parties – Trudeau, Scheer, Singh and May – and presented them with a series of proposals designed to help broaden the expansion and inclusion of Black Canadians in the country’s politics.
In part, it called on the federal parties to develop strategies that would expand the number of Black candidates running in winnable federal ridings, with the goal of growing the number of Black MPs across Canada.
On September 3, the Conservative Party of Canada said it became “the first party to reach a full slate of candidates nominated across Canada.”

It noted that this includes “a record number of women candidates with 105, well ahead of the previous high of 68 in 2011. Conservative candidates in 2019 include Indigenous Canadians, LGBTQ+ Canadians, Muslims, Sikhs, Jewish Canadians, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and new Canadians including those who immigrated in the 2000s.”

The party noted that they also come from diverse professional backgrounds listing them as: veterans, police officers, small business owners, public servants, farmers, teachers, stay-at-home parents, healthcare professionals, financial professionals, engineers, journalists, professional athletes, a tattoo shop owner, a Juno-award winning country music star, a Paralympic gold-medalist, and an Olympic gold-medalist.

“This team of candidates is among the most professionally and personally diverse group we’ve ever put forward,” said Scheer regarding the 338 candidates.

A close look at the photographs of the candidates running for the four main parties and the relatively new People’s Party of Canada indicates that the New Democratic Party (NDP) has the most racialized candidates on the ballot, several of whom are Black.

There are 21 Black or Caribbean candidates running for the NDP, 11 for the Green, six for the Liberal, two for the Conservative and a few for the People’s Party which does not have individual photographs of its candidates but lists their ridings and links to their twitter and Facebook accounts. The Bloc Québécois appears to have two.

Mavis Ashbourne-Palmer, president of the Saskatchewan Jamaican Association, is concerned about the difficulty that skilled workers who came t to the province under the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) are having with their application for permanent residency.
She said although this falls under provincial jurisdiction there is a role for the federal government to step in to make it possible for teachers, journalists and others, many from the Caribbean who have work permits, to gain their permanent residency.
Ashbourne-Palmer said many have worked in the province for the required period but employers inform them that they are not obligated to help them with letters of support to strengthen their application.
Through the SINP, Saskatchewan invites residency applications from non-Canadians who want to make Saskatchewan their home; and nominates successful applicants to the federal government, so they can gain permanent residency in Canada.
Its website notes that the SINP is only one of the steps toward becoming a permanent resident in Saskatchewan. All applicants must also apply for residency through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Canadian Immigration Commission.

Meanwhile, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) Canada says it is important that the mandate of the next government includes a concrete plan to tackle anti-Black racism in the country.

“Anti-Black racism, as we see it, includes things such as mass incarceration within the Black community, limited employment opportunities and more,” says Mark Brown, the CBTU’s communications officer.

In this election, the CBTU says it is looking for a solid plan and a past history of effective representation on the issues that resonate most within the black community.

“It is our view that Canada's next prime minister must have an understanding of both the lived realities of racialized Canadians and the unique realities of the Black and African Canadians experience. With the recent revelations of the Black-faced costumes worn by our current prime minister and conservative leader Andrew Scheer's refusal to step away from conservative candidates that have made racist remarks in the past, it is clear that a lot of work needs to be done on the issue of anti-Black racism in Canada.”

The coalition is also concerned about the issue of gun violence in the Greater Toronto area and says the incoming government must have a plan to tackle the root issues contributing to gun violence. 

“A plan that tackles issues such as poverty, Black youth employment and education strategies within the black community,” says the CBTU.

Photo contributed  Donnovan Simon, president of the Jamaican Canadian Association Alberta

In the meantime, Donnovan Simon, president of the Jamaican Canadian Association Alberta, says the overall economic situation is an issue in Alberta which has been struggling with getting pipelines and getting oil products out to markets. 

“That has been a major thing. The other thing is immigration and what the next government, whoever it is, will do or continue to do to allowing immigrants to become a part of the Canadian society.”

Simon says from the association’s point of view there are also some questions about the overall political leadership, “the quality of the campaign and what can we really expect of our political leaders at the federal level.”

Photo contributed  Kingsley Gilliam of the Black Action Defense Committee (BADC)

Kingsley Gilliam of the Black Action Defense Committee (BADC) says the Black community shares the general concerns of environment and climate change, and comprehensive health care, including Pharma-care and dental care.

He notes that poverty and discrimination which manifest itself in under-employment, over representation in the criminal justice system, poor social housing conditions and high cost of housing and rent, are also issues.

“The prospect of change is next to nil without a conscious intervention strategy.

Such a strategy must include commitment of significant funds for programs to address the root causes of poverty and violence, equitable hiring and public appointments of qualified Blacks to public service and public agencies, boards and commissions, the judiciary and other positions of influence where these individuals will be able to influence public policy and decision-making as well as being role models to other young Black children and youth…,” he said.

[An edited version of this story was published in the North American Weekly Gleaner, Oct. 3-9, 2019.]

On Wednesday, October 16, 1st Fridays presents the Black Community Federal Election Candidates Meet & Greet, 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Jamaican Canadian Association, 995 Arrow Road, Toronto. Free admission. Register on Eventbrite.

On Monday, October 21, Operation Black Vote Canada presents its Dinner + Politics Election Day Edition, 8:00-11:00 p.m. at Harlem Underground, 745 Queen St. W., Toronto. Please RSVP on Eventbrite as space is limited.
Hosted by OBVC in partnership with the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and Generation Chosen.