As Leader of Ontario’s New Democrats, I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over Ontario and everywhere I go, I am reminded of just what an important role the Black community has played in shaping this province, and country.
As Canada marks its 150th anniversary, Ontario celebrates its 39th Black History Month this February, which I urge all Ontarians to take part in.
When we talk about Black History Month, what we’re really talking about is Canadian history.
From cowboys in Alberta like John Ware, to business entrepreneurs like Thornton Blackburn in Toronto, African-Canadians have been building and shaping this country since the earliest days of its history.
Black History Month is more than just an important educational opportunity – it is a celebration.
Ontario, Canada, and cultures around the world have been profoundly influenced and enriched by the Black community.
Black History Month is a time for all Ontarians and Canadians to celebrate the contributions the Black community has made, and to honour its role models and leaders, past and present.
All Ontarians should take time to learn about the challenges and triumphs of African-Canadians, African-Americans, as well those from the Continent and the diaspora.
It is important that this history never be forgotten or ignored.
We must also never forget or ignore the challenges still being faced by the Black community.
Despite improvements, the Black community still bears a disproportionate burden of violence, poverty, racism, and lack of opportunity.
Thankfully, community activists and leaders are carrying on the traditions of human rights pioneers like Stanley Grizzle, Bromley Armstrong, and Viola Desmond.
These community leaders, past and present, are standing up to make the promise of Canadian multiculturalism and tolerance a reality.
Their ongoing struggles and leadership are a call to action to all Ontarians to confront injustice wherever we see it and to build a fair, inclusive society, where everyone can build a future for their family.
Ontario’s New Democrats are proud to stand in solidarity with these community activists, and to celebrate the leaders and activists that have come before.
The African-Canadian community, its history, and it struggles, should always hold an important place in our schools, literature, and culture.
Alongside all Ontarians, New Democrats are proud to celebrate Black History Month, this year, and every year.