NEWS

Black community members testify they feel like 2nd class citizens

01/29/2015 09:03 EST | Updated 03/31/2015 05:59 EDT
Members of Montreal's black community had strong words for politicians today on the second day of hearings into the province's new policy on immigration, diversity and inclusion.

They told MNAs they feel like second class citizens in Quebec.

“I can't say that in the eyes of others I am part of Quebec...Even though we are called a visible minority we are invisible," said Nadia Rousseau, treasurer of the Round Table on Black History Month.

Rousseau and other members of the black community said one of the biggest challenges black youth face is employment.

A McGill study in 2009 revealed that black university graduates have a tougher time finding a job in Quebec than their white counterparts.

“The discouragement happens quickly so a lot of times they might not give it a shot anymore,” said  Michael Farkas, president of Youth in Motion — a non-profit organization in Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighbourhood.

Farkas said many who can’t find work decide to leave Quebec for another province.

The speakers also told the hearing that for them to feel like they belong, their community needs to be reflected more in the school curriculum and in the French media.

“The youth want the same thing as the Quebecois youth...so let’s find resources and whatever it will take to [get] everyone more on the same page, identity-wise," Farkas said.

Members of the black community pointed to the demolition of Montreal’s Negro Community Centre as a message that their history is not important.

“Bring back the NCC. That is a huge message — in new form, in a new shape — that would obviously trace back all our history," Farkas said.

It’s an idea Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil said she’s open to.

“Of course it got my brain working and so I think we need to think of something that captures the spirit of young people — their capacity for innovation...We need to find proactive ways to keep young people here,” Weil said.

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