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Few are aware that a Montréaler played key role in expanding British colonial rule across Africa. Sir Édouard Percy Girouard rose to fame by helping Britain conquer Sudan.
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Ask most Canadians about black history and they'll tell you about slavery in America, victories of the Civil Rights Movement and the giants who led it. But what about Canada? Mathieu Da Costa, a renowned translator hired by Samuel de Champlain, was the first recorded black person in the country.
For too long, the achievements of our community were rarely listed in text books, showcased in film, or shared with a wide audience. Black Canadians have come to expect their stories to be ignored in Canadian history.
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My Jamaican Grandparents came to Canada in 1967, just after new immigration laws allowed entry on the basis of a new merit-based points system. My entire life, the Jamaican-Canadian trajectory story from their humble Caribbean beginnings, to the United Kingdom where they met as students, and finally to Canada with their four young children for opportunities they could not afford in Jamaica, has been etched into my conscience as a constant reminder of how far our family has come, to seize the opportunities and carve out the legacy that is now well underway.
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But does he make a good argument?
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Canada is a better place to live and a freer and more equitable society because of the long history of oppressed communities coming together and saying a better world is possible, and fighting to make it happen -- not just for themselves, but for the entire community and in solidarity with other oppressed groups.
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Did you know that the mathematician who calculated the trajectories for NASA's Apollo 11 flight to the Moon was an African-American woman? Her name is Katherine Johnson. Thanks to the movie Hidden Figures, her story, and that of two other brilliant African-American women, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, is finally being told.
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I'm not sure who is advising the Black Lives Matter Toronto chapter. Social justice should be about resolving issues that exist and preventing new ones from popping up. Regressive justice and the approach of BLMTO seems to be creating division. They're stepping on others and provoking controversy. Making such outlandish commentary and actions, they become their own worst enemy.
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The City of Toronto's recent punitive measure of cutting the annual Afrofest festival down to one day from its original two has made me question how we evaluate this "within reason." What is the threshold of noise, traffic congestion, number of complaints and general inconvenience one should tolerate before the city has to put its foot down?
When he spoke about some of the worst hate crimes experienced by black people, Chris Rock made sure to let these stars know that our ancestors were "too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer". How did they react to the "grandmother swinging from a tree"? Laughter!
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A few years ago I decided to embark on a backpacking trip across Europe for two months. Towards the end of my travels, I found myself at the Sisteen Chapel in Rome, Italy. As I was standing there, enchanted by this insanely crazy masterpiece, I felt a soft whisper perk the tiny hairs on the back of my neck.
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Her appearance left us "clueless" as to its intent...
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These are valuable voices sharing fresh and influential stories and perspectives.
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For so long, popular media has, in a sharp but narrow way equated BHM with "slavery"! So much that new African immigrants to the America's like myself have often struggled with seeing their role in the BHM celebrations. Subsequently, this has led to questions and doubt as to where global Africans fit where BHM is concerned.
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At what point does racism move from isolated incidents to a systemic problem in the Canadian Forces? Master Corporal Marc Frenette is quitting his decades-long service after years of racial harassment. Last May, Corporal Esther Wolki went public over the racial abuse she suffered and the damage it did to her mind. Not even the defence minister is immune from racist attacks. Then there's Private Wallace Fowler. For 16 years he has been trying to get the Forces to properly investigate the racism he says he endured.
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The most curious fact about my father's death, on August 31, 2005, at age 70, is that, as soon as it had happened, I knew I would write a novel based on his life. Parents are unavoidable for children, and I am not the first to believe his own to have been both more eccentric and more superb than the billions of other human beings who did not chance to give me life. But my father's life seemed novelistic for another reason: he -- William Lloyd Clarke -- had driven a motorcycle in his early 20s in the later 1950s.
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I was only 9 years old when I came face to face with a 'racist'. The sad thing about this encounter was not only what was happening to me, but the other person, who had no idea that they were actually inciting racial hatred. That person was another 9 year old girl.
As an MP in Ottawa, he supported a private member's bill that attempted to restrict a women's right to choose. A decade ago, as a newly elected MP, he voted against same-sex marriage. In the decade he has been an MP in Ottawa, he has not moved past his backbench status, freeing him to build a coalition for an eventual leadership run.
Meet Marie Jeanne and Martha. Marie Jeanne and her six siblings were raised by their single mother. Martha comes from a family of five. It was only through financial assistance that Marie Jeanne compl...
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Viola Desmond's crime? Sitting in a section of the movie theatre reserved for white Canadians.
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What happened with Stacey Dash has been going on for decades, and not just in the U.S. Banking on vulnerable people to lie to save their skin is one thing. To use these misguided statements, possibly offered under duress, as a catalyst for further marginalization of racialized groups is cruel. This tactic has often worked well for the establishment.
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This year marks the 20th anniversary of the official observance of Black History Month across Canada. The first official celebrations started in 1996, following its federal recognition in 1995.
In our highly competitive and technological post-modern era, what does Black progress even look like? While the Black community has accomplished so much thus far, there's a lot of progress to be accomplished still.
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Over the following months in 2001, the violence continued in Burundi between the rebels and the government. My passion for my work diminished. I no longer felt like doing anything. I even stopped watching the news on TV, or even listening to it on my own radio station. Everything looked hopeless. In 2002, some Canadian journalists visited Burundi. If I were going to ask for help, it was now or never. Six months later, they invited me to visit Canada, and I jumped on the opportunity. I arrived in Canada with $60 in my pocket -- my mother's life savings.
Lest we forget, the fact that Canada's black recent political biographies, for the most part, have come via political anointments rather than community organizations. As blacks, we are often too enthusiastic to celebrate Obama's biography in community organizations yet have neglected to follow in his footsteps.
Over the next few weeks, you will see no shortage of functions organized by historical societies, libraries, and schools dedicated to Black History. You may even catch the corporate giants sponsoring short vignettes on black history, or perhaps a rerun of "Amistad," "Roots" or "Malcolm X." During our school years, we spend months, perhaps years, studying history. Yet, how much importance is given to the history of blacks?
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Adapted for the small screen, The Book of Negroes' Canadian debut occurs one month ahead of the U.S.A. premiere, appositely scheduled for Black History Month. As with any historical film depicting the bowels of inhumanity towards people of colour, it is an uneasy subject matter for the mostly lily-white CBC personalities.
Somewhere out there Drake needs to stand up and write a song about this fact for people to understand that his OVO concert takes place on a weekend made possible by a person that fought for the freedom of his ancestors. Well, at least the black half of his ancestors.
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In the social context of Canada before the Quiet Revolution (1950s), before Viola Desmond's act of defiance (1946), before Rosa Parks triggered the United States' Civil Rights Movement (1955), Fred Christie stood up to institutional discrimination. A decade before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1947), Fred Christie exhibited unimaginable courage and perseverance in asserting his civil rights. Though the judicial process did not deliver the desired result, Fred Christie remains a key instigator in Canada's journey towards the establishment of universal rights.
The amazing thing about our country is that we're still young. Compared to other countries we're like barely-legal young. We're still losing our baby teeth, learning how to walk, working out the kinks and growing into our clothes. And from what I see, the core of what Canadian-ness is, is multiculturalism. So I have problem with Black History Month, and the reason is this: I don't believe we should assign one month out of the year (and the shortest month, mind you) to one race. Why? Because although, yes, it brings awareness to the history and celebrates its triumphs, it sets them apart from the norm, reiterating this whole notion of "otherness."
The Toronto Star and other publications have touted the success of Ontario's Africentric school system. The problem is, one would expect higher test scores and improved behaviour from students who attend such a school, as the program will self-select parents who care more about their children and are engaged in their education. The fact is, as confirmed in countless studies, that the collapse of the black family within a segment of the black community is the primary reason so many of our children fall through the cracks of society, to be broken against the hard, unbending steel of racism, prejudice, failure and depression. No amount of "specialty schools" can change that.