Black History Month - February
Working While Black Webinar Series
On February 13, 2017 in honour of Black History Month, the Canadian Labour Congress is launching “Working While Black”, an educational and interactive webinar series for workers of colour and allies.
The series will celebrate the contributions of Black activists and organizers in Canada, strengthen solidarity across movements, and build skills and knowledge for confronting anti-Black racism in workplaces and communities today. Participants will be able to engage with speakers and share lived experiences with each other.
Find out more at canadianlabour.ca/WWB.
Toronto – January 29, 2017 – It has been over 20 years since the House of Commons gave its unanimous consent to annually commemorate and recognize February as Black History Month. It is a month to acknowledge a history that dates back in Canada to 1603, and the four centuries to follow, as Canadians of African descent helped build and defend the country we all call home.
The contributions of Black Canadians to culture, science, business, sports, social justice and the trade union movement have been substantial: pioneerslike Alexander Augusta, who graduated from Trinity College as a doctor in 1860, and 100 years later, Myrtle Blackwood Smith, the first female Black lawyer who was called to the Ontario Bar in 1960. These individuals are among the tens of thousands of black Canadians who helped build our society.
Most recently, Viola Desmond – who in 1946 changed the conversation about why segregation is contrary to one's human rights – was selected as the first Canadian woman to appear on a Canadian banknote. Not only is the step forward important to women, but it is another step forward on the road to racial justice.
While we have made significant progress on that road, we know those steps forward have sometimes come at a great cost, and in spite of the stinging prevalence of anti-Black racism that exists in Canada. We have seen it in racial profiling, and in tragedies of black men who have been killed by police with impunity. We see it in the lack of diversity in numerous organizations across the country, particularly in decision-making positions. Whether as a result of implicit bias, overt racism, or a combination of the two, Canada is nowhere near where it needs to be with regard to dealing with anti-Black racism.
Undoubtedly, the fight for justice continues. We must all celebrate and learn from a history that has spanned the deepest of inequalities to the greatest of achievements. We must stand with Black Canadians in solidarity to work towards a future where inequality is a thing of the past.
Paul R. Meinema