Black Studies Center (BSC) makes a significant contribution to the BCF’s strategy to increase employability in the Black Community.

The Black studies Center, the Black Community Resource Center (BCRC) the Quebec Board of Black Educators (QBBE),  the Black Academic Scholarship Fund, as members of the Black Community Forum,  are working together as partners to improve the  employability of Blacks and to stop the Brain drain of Black graduates from Montreal and Quebec. The BSC has made significant contributions from its Charity Capital Fund in support of these organizations and this initiative. The sum total of funds donated to BCF member organization in 2017-2018 is $13 000. In addition, the BSC has spent a maximum to date of $18 000 on its Black community archives project carried out in collaboration with QBBE, BCRC, and BTW.

NEW Scholarships to Quebec Black Medical Association (QBMA).

The Black Studies Center has dedicated two scholarships renewable on an annual basis to be managed by the Quebec Black Medical Association (QBMA) and the Black Academic Scholarship Fund.  These scholarships are awarded across the language divide of  Quebec. The two scholarships consider the academic excellence and community engagement of Blacks and other visible minorities, and disenfranchised student competitors. Thus the scholarships are to support the organizations’ initiatives in their efforts to support excellence in the medical sciences, the general arts and social sciences disciplines, consistent with the spirit of the Black Community Forum principle of  “Collaborative Unity.”

The QBMA Awards

The first of the two BSC Awards were presented by the QBMA at a special symposium and award ceremony at Université de Montréal  Friday, Oct. 26th  5: 30-9: 00 pm. The Dean of the Faculty of medicine of UdeM was introduced by Dr Eduard Kouassi, President of the QBMA. The Dean’s welcoming address was well received.   During the address, the University’s support for the QBMA was announced. Following the welcome, a guest speaker, Dr Ahmed Maherzi, delivered an inspirational presentation on Social responsibility in Medicine and Health Sciences, making the central point that the disciplines and the role of the University must be tailored to the cultures and needs of the communities they serve.  Most importantly, he stated that the study and delivery of the services must engage and involve the participation of the peoples of those communities.

Following the question and answer period Dr Eduard Akoussi, president of the Quebec Black Medical Association, addressed the symposium and introduced the Awards Ceremony. Six scholarships were presented.  The highest award for the evening highlighted the Legacy of Dr Elery Tucker, the founding father of the QBMA.   The Black Studies Center award went to Kayala Lewis Thelusmon.

Ms Kayala Lewis Thelusmon is a student in the medical sciences (Macromolecular Structure and Functions plus protein purification).  She has a passionate curiosity about the healing bridge between the medical sciences and the arts. To quote her: “ j’ai un amour  pour les sciences de la vie et l’éducation.   Surtout, je m’assure d’inclure autant qe possible des notions de la communauté africaine et de descendence  africaine  dans toute ce que j’entreprends.”  This is what the General manager of the Black  Theatre Workshop had to say about her work in the Black Canadian theatre culture scene; “ I was very impressed with her professionalism and the quality and care she puts into her tasks … She has been a great asset to our team during our most busy period.. we were very [appreciative]  for her time.”

Award recipients along with the representatives of QBMA and BSC

Kayala Lewis Thelusmon and Dr. Clarence Bayne


The evening was a great success with some 100 persons in attendance. The food was great and the social interaction vibrant.

Community Contact, Guest Reporter


The “Stop the Brain-Drain Project” is a creation of the BCRC suggested by its policies for employment and employability under a strategy of holistic community development programming. The first stage of this development strategy is putting in places programs that ensure that Black youth are employable.  They must graduate from high school and have at least a college or technical certification. The next stage is helping them to be successful in finding employment in Quebec and participating fully in the Quebec and Canadian society. That has proven problematic in spite of the fact that Black acquisition of education goods is equivalent to that of the larger population (Yolande James Task Force 2006; The Secretariat for Relations English Speaking Quebecer, Data from Census 2016). In fact, the system continues to keep Blacks and other minorities in the hinterland spaces of Canadian society or as enclave agents.


The Black Community Resource Center (BCRC) in collaboration with the CEDEC and ASCion conducted a study of Black graduates to determine their intention and desire to make careers in Montreal ( ). This survey is part of what is described as the African-Canadian Career Excellence (ACCE).

The ACCE Initiatives intends to:

  • Encourage Black graduates, in particular, to stay in the province of Quebec in order to contribute to the vitality of the middle-class community as a whole.
  • Assist employers as they move toward diversifying their workforce.

The initiative hopes to mitigate the exodus of educated Black youth by helping them attain meaningful and sustainable local employment that is commensurate with their skills. The survey proved very positive in terms of the intention and desire of Black graduates to remain and build careers in Montreal. However, further studies and statistical analyses of Statistic Canada census data show a troublesome problem that strongly suggests negative biases against Blacks, other visible minorities and immigrants. Moreover, studies conducted by the University of Montreal (Faculty of Education: Professor Marie McAndrew)  over the last ten years warn about the possible increase in the failure rate and delay in the graduation of English speaking Black youths of Caribbean ancestry in the French School system. BCRC has moved to address this problem by its program “House of Kings and Queens. The Quebec Board of Black Educators, in spite of financial problems, continues to assist Montreal youth complete failed credits each summer. (It hosted 120 High School youth at Dawson College this summer, July –August 2018). The Black Theatre Workshop has recruited 15 young Montreal professional artists into their Artists Mentorship Program (See Black Theatre Workshop Program at All these organizations are part of network collaboration with BCRC and are members of the Black Community Forum.


There were some attempts of ACSion to organize Black students and graduates to more effectively do job searches in 2016. However, the responsibility of generating the resources to do the job of addressing this problem was officially handed over from the CEDEC to the BCRC in 2016.  BCRC accepted the responsibility, but based on its knowledge of the situation decided that the approach had to be broader than just teaching graduates how to make attractive applications and pass interviews. BCRC reached the conclusion that a more holistic approach to community development was required. First and foremost the Black community had to be mobilized if only partially, to change perceptions in the public and private spheres about the competence and capabilities and rights of being of Blacks in Canada and Quebec.  So BCRC revitalized the 1992 Val Morin Black Community Forum for which it acts as the Secretariat. This is intended to create a sense of community and provide a set of priorities, principles and recommendations that have the broad acceptance of a wide proportion of Black community organizations and other network partners. It avoids setting up a hierarchical autocratic federation. This circumvention of autocracy helps organizations to focus on their particular missions and to increase the flexibility for quicker response to rapidly changing external environments, and enable better management of the complexity derived possible social and economic catastrophes of fragmented communities that are administrative constructs from multiple sources of immigration and different cultures. The BCF, therefore, operates on the principle of “an alliance of the willing few” linked by the principle of “collaborative unity and existential responsibility.”  This does not reduce completely the incidences of internecine “suicide bombings/badmouthing”. Nor the opportunities for opposite interests and those of ill will to exploit the weaknesses of this fragmentation. But it gives us a somewhat better chance to manage our own destiny a bit.

As a member of the revitalized Black Community Forum, BCRC has accepted the responsibility placed on it by the ACCE partners to engage key partners and stakeholders to help mitigate the exodus of young educated Blacks from Montreal.


First Stage of the strategy 

To date, BCRC has recruited the support of the Black Studies Center, the Black Academic Scholarship Fund, the Quebec Black Medical Association (QDMA), the Quebec Board of Black Educators, and the Black Theatre Workshop.   Moving forward we aim to engage other key partners and stakeholders within the Community, Universities as well as the private and public sector to help mitigate the exodus of young educated Blacks from Montreal. We aim to continue encouraging young Blacks to participate in building the intensity within the community to:

  • Encourage networking within Montreal’s Black community to achieve more unifying and effective strategies for advancing Black life and full participation in Canadian and Quebec soc
  • Enhance professional capacity building and strive toward having a civic workforce with a representative number of Black employees.
  • Help Montreal’s Black graduates find gainful and sustainable employment in their various areas of specialization with salaries commensurate to their qualifications and provide potential employers with highly qualified professionals.
  • Reduce the unemployment rate in Montreal, especially within the Black community.

The next stage of the program for the BASF and BCRC is the putting in place of a strategy to bring diversity employers and potential employees together. This will require network involvement and a longer horizon before the fruits of our labour are seen. There are no quick fixes for this and multiple strategies will be required with very little help from public sources.  But BCRC and BASF are collaborating and already working on a database and resource booklet that will provide information to potential employees and job seekers. BASF is building a business and leadership mentorship support system and BTW is expanding and improving on its Artist Mentorship program to include arts management training of professional artists.

 Capacity is in short supply. But the Forum is coming alive.

Dr. Clarence S. Bayne

Chair of the Secretariat of the BCF

BSC provides two new Scholarships for the Community

“We Dare to Dare in spite of the uncertainties of tomorrow”

As part of the BCRC-BASF Stop the Brain-Drain Project, two new scholarships are being awarded by the Black Studies Center charitable capital fund.  The Black Studies Center (BSC) is a member organization of the Black Community Forum, dedicated to the principles and protocols of the FORUM.  BSC sits on the Board of Directors of the BCRC. These scholarships, worth $2500 each, are provided on an annual renewable basis to be assigned by BASF and the QBMA respectively. They are given to academically worthy students who show an interest in community engagement. This is a part of a Black Community program put in place by the BCRC and BASF to support scholarship and excellence among African-Canadian students to ensure a continuous supply of informed and competent black leadership that will strengthen the vitality of the Black Community and the general Montreal society. The first of these scholarships will be awarded at a Quebec Black Medical Association (QBMA) Symposium to be held at the University of Montreal, Friday, October 26 5:30 PM. The Dean of the Faculty of medicine of UdeM will give the welcome address. A guest speaker, Dr. Ahmed Maherzi will talk about Social responsibility in medicine and health sciences.

The Black Communities of Montreal and Kauffman’s Complexity Catastrophes

The Black Communities of Montreal and Kauffman’s Complexity Catastrophes

By Dr. Clarence S. Bayne (President of BCRC)





This is a condition that occurs when a specie is fragmented in a large number of closed subgroups. R. Kauffman makes the observation that the specie tends to cluster around low levels of life and subsistence.

The Black community in Montreal is a fragmented set of sub-cultures that are, in many ways, closed to each other and isolated in the larger society. This is the result of immigration and country of origin, competitive rivalries based on race and place of birth, a history of Western colonial capitalism and slavery, and the economic and political arrangements and distribution of power in Canada.

The various communities tend to persist in sustaining strong regional loyalties, creating country of origin closed sub-cultures, and becoming further separated by the linguistic wars of British and French settler people’s. This congruence of events and attitudes set the stage for their resulting weak representation in the social, political and economic decision making processes of the country and province, the poverty and marginalization of the many and the restricted success of a very few Blacks across the country.

Based on these observations and reviews of a number of case studies and analyses, several English speaking Black organizations in Montreal (The Black Community Forum) came together for the purpose of overcoming Kaufman’s “complexity catastrophes”. The purpose was to reduce duplication and inter-organizational conflict. As a collective, they hoped to strengthen the strategic position of the isolated and ignored English speaking Black communities in this fractured multiculturalism of at least one, but not more than two, official languages. It is interesting to note that this collectivity is based on a collaborative, rather than a formal corporate structure. It is based on the evolving principle of “collaborative unity and existential responsibility.” The intent here is to avoid the hierarchical demagoguery of traditional failed national structures, and build trust through corporation and partnerships. Within that system the BCRC is a central agency with a Board of Directors that include a representative from each of the two major key community member organizations, the Black Studies Center and the Quebec Board of Black Educators. This structure and relationship has been in place for over twenty years.

Will the strategy of “collaborative unity and existential responsibility”, adopted by the Black Community Forum groups, pay off in terms of increased resources from the Federal and Provincial levels of government? Will it serve to stop the decline of the English speaking Black organizations and communities? This will require co-ordinated strategies at the Provincial and municipal levels.

In general, what seems clear is that any attempt to reverse initiatives in the English speaking communities of Quebec, as a whole, to design and create new arrangements that make living with Bill 101 more acceptable, will be disruptive of the social harmony. Increasingly, minorities as a whole are becoming more unwilling to accept the status quo and are demanding that their cultural and spiritual “selfs” be recognized and respected. More specifically, we at BCRC posit the following proposition: It would be crazy to expect Blacks to accept any form of modern slavery. Given that position and our relatively small numbers in the population, bounded rationality suggests that we will have to form alliances with progressive White French and English speaking citizens in a collaborative effort to create a better society.


Activism is essential but not enough. Activism that chases every new event is non-productive. Activities not linked to core priorities are short term fillers. Hard grinding-stone vigilance and commitment to patient long term work is needed:

Walking on the Lord’s highway requires spiritual and physical endurance. It is not a place for dancing politicians and their aspirants.

We expect the Federal government to protect our rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. We expect that in all planning, policy development, governance and administration, article 27 will be respected. But we should not forget that it was a Liberal Federal government that betrayed us with the “notwithstanding clause”. Now it dangles a reconciliatory medal of $400 million before the eyes of the Linguistic minorities. It is encouraging that they have targeted Blacks in the budget and met with Black organizations as a collective group in Montreal on March 2, 2018. Hopefully, on an empowerment scale of 0 to 5, this indicates that they are aware of the necessity to address the needs of Blacks as distinct from that of the two mainstream cultural linguistic groups.


The BCRC, and its members, are actively engaged working with the QCGN to try to ensure that the recently created Secretariat for English speaking relations in Quebec has a life beyond any single government. We encourage all English speaking Blacks, and their colleagues, to support this initiative. Because it offers a glimmer of possible future participation. But most important, the BCRC, and its member organizations, are demanding organization participation and representation consistent with their arts, culture, education and community development mandates. The BCRC leadership member groups and partners are acting to ensure that the English speaking Black community does not sit in the Lazarus chair waiting for the crumbs that fall from those that dine at the table.

It is clear that our social and political situation in Quebec, as Black minorities, no matter what language we speak, is constrained by the quasi-constitutional arrangements between the mainstream English speaking and French speaking Canadians. As a result, in Quebec, the English speaking Blacks are excluded and discriminated against on the basis of both race and language spoken. This makes them unique, as compared to Blacks elsewhere in Canada, where language is less of a discriminant factor. Thus, we insist that the Federal Government, the Provincial Government and the Municipal Government speak directly to us, not through external agencies, be they Black or White. We have, in the past, collaborated with and sought the support of external and international agencies. We will continue to do so, because it makes practical sense and is consistent with many theoretical and probable perspective visions of future worlds. But our priorities will, and must, be determined within the framework of Quebec, and the conditions we live in Quebec, and with respect to the history of the struggle of Blacks in Quebec. In that sense, we will decide who our leaders are, not have them picked for us by the Government or others. Our problems cannot be solved by the uncritical use of models applied successfully in the context and histories of America, or Ontario, or Africa, or the Caribbean. We must develop our own experts and social innovators, not import them. Context is important in problem solving; always has been and always will be.

Searching the Landscapes of Montreal and Quebec for Solutions

The landscape in the Black community, like elsewhere, is rugged. There are many distractions. Trying to arrive at collective informed decisions is constantly being disrupted by the “me syndrome” or the fear among the rank and file of exploitation by what E. Franklin Frazier called the “Black bourgeoisie” and what the less generous Frantz Fanon called “the know-all, smart wily (local) intellectual” whose “only wealth is individual thought” and for whom your friendship is his road to greater success.


We respect the opinion of sample survey experts who tell us that one cannot arrive at the best sense of the truth by polling the opinions of a non-representative set of respondents on a single Sunday in the year. Any informed person who says so, or attempts that, is being deceptive or engaging in misinformation. Hence the reason that polls for elections are taken repeatedly over extended periods of time. To avoid charges of misinformation, and to give generality to our discovery, we have tried to arrive at the priories of the community from many different sources and contexts. This is the direct opposite to prominent leaders approving the use of information based on a single badly drawn sample or poorly conducted internet survey that uses the same biased sample of persons to evaluate the process. It is utterly disgusting and insulting to our intelligence. We need to be aware that seventeen and eighteen year old Black youth at Dawson and Vanier in the social sciences have an in depth understanding of sampling, generalization and internal and external validity.

A quasi meta study survey

While no estimation method is perfect. This approach has more information than a single badly drawn sample. From the late 2016 to March 2018 we have had at least 25 community meetings, workshops, conferences and consultations with the federal, provincial and municipalities of the City of Montreal, the Sud-Ouest Borough, and the Cote des Neiges-NDG Boroughs. In 2017, Seven (7) Key meetings were organized by the Black History Month Round Table (BHRT) with respect to the Montreal 375th Celebration (in protest of the exclusion of Blacks).   Two major conferences were held by the Black Community Forum (16 June 20116 and 27 October 2017) involving more than a 100 persons and 15 organizations from the English speaking Black Communities. Four sessions were held between the BCRC Secretariat for the Black Community Forum and the City of Montreal and two meetings with the Sud-Ouest and the NDG_CDN Boroughs. There were two economic forums, including the First International Black Economic Forum”. There were   three consultations with the federal and the provincial governments; four community meetings of the Rights and Freedoms Ad Hoc Community Committee of BCRC; two community consultations by La Ligue des Noirs; and a consultation meeting (May 2017) called by Faculty of Education, University of Montreal, to discuss the findings of research conducted over 10 years on the performance of Blacks and other minorities in the French school system; and a meeting (28 July 2017) of a group of Black community experts in education and development with the Ministry of Education (services d’accueil et d’éducation interculturelle (par intérim)Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur du Québec).

Based on the minutes, reports, survey results, proceedings case studies research, briefings and notes taken at these events the priorities of the Black community have emerged. Copies of these document are stored in the archives of the BSC and the BCRC. They are also accessible from the original source agencies (BHMRT, Black Community Forum, Faculty of Education U of M; Ministry of Education (6000 Fullum). It is interesting to note that these priorities are very similar to priorities developed by the Black Community Forum, Val Morin (July 1992) and revised and reaffirmed by a City of Montreal Black Communities Task Force in 2004 and the Black Community Forums of June 16 2016 and 27 October 2017. Elements of these priorities also correspond to those developed by QCGN studies setting priorities essential for a vital and sustainable English speaking minority communities in Quebec and used by the heritage department for informing their policies for funding (see QCGN Archives).


Based on the evidence derived from these sources described above, the following summaries of Black Community priorities are presented. The following are the priorities that the Black Community Forum has adopted and presented to community organizations, and all levels of Government, as priorities that they must respect for Blacks in Montreal. While different leadership groups may assign different ranking to the items in this list, we know of no Black organizations, nor network of organizations in Montreal, that reject these as not being critical and comprehensive.

  1. Support for the Black Family
  2. General Health and Mental Health
  3. Youth, Education, Employment and Employability
  4. Arts and Culture
  5. Rights and Freedom: Anti-Racism Strategies
  6. Economic Development
  7. Reinforcement of Community Structures
  8. Mechanisms for reducing isolationism and fragmentation: Black community archive and communication network systems and centers.


For Full Version of Semaji April 2018 Click Here

It’s Time To Stop Calling Diverse Groups Of People “Minorities”

It’s Time To Stop Calling Diverse Groups Of People “Minorities”

By Yvonne Sam (Chairman of Rights and Freedoms Committee at BCRC)

Originally published in Huffington Post (February 5, 2018):


White people constitute 20 per cent of the world’s population, so how could all other ethnic racial groups be lumped together and classified as minorities.


The Canadian government uses the term “visible minority” as a classification for groups of people. The government defines this term as “persons, other than aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.”


This classification has lured controversy both nationally and abroad. In 2007, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination openly voiced their concerns to the Canadian government regarding the use of the term. They argue that it is in violation of the goals and objectives of the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, which came into effect in 1969. The Committee recommended an evaluation of this classification.


Obliged to respond, the government had academics research the term’s history, nationally and internationally, held an open workshop to gather more input, and canvassed provincial and territorial governments on their use of the term in Canada.


In 2011, a Government of Canada report, put forward to the Committee, said there were no plans of changing the standard usage of the term.


Why do we allow ourselves to be called minorities? Minority means less than 50 per cent. White people constitute about 20 per cent of the world’s population; so how could all of the other ethnic racial groups be lumped together and classified as minorities? Doing so leads people of colour to fall into an amorphous blob of otherness, no longer existing as people and communities.


Some may say that the Canadian government only uses the term to refer to Canada’s population, where white people do make up a majority. The full and proper term is “member of a minority group,” but is usually shortened to “minority.” It’s very rarely expanded to “member of a minority group in Quebec or Canada,” which would be a more satisfying inclusion.


Another equally troubling and co-existing term is “non-White.” One wonders why this term is always used, while “non-Black” is never even uttered. Is it due to the fact that White is somehow seen as the standard, when, in fact, there is no standard group to which all others must be compared?


Imagine, for a brief moment, what goes through the minds of our young children. They enter school ready and eager to learn, to soak up everything and anything that is presented to them. Over time they are led to believe that they’re “a member of a disadvantaged, non-white minority group,” which will engender diminished self-worth.


I hope to see the word phased out in favour of a more people-centered approach, especially during the International Decade for People of African Descent.


For Full Version of Semaji April 2018 Click Here

Memories of Dr. Howard McCurdy

Memories of Dr. Howard McCurdy

By Dorothy Wills; Edited by John Harewood and Ashlie Bienvenu



It was in the late sixties that I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Dr. Howard McCurdy for the first time. Shortly thereafter, I also had the pleasure of becoming his “Executive Secretary”.

Picture Taken From:

Here is how it happened:

Historically, The Caribbean Students and Black Professors, at Sir George Williams University, held an annual conference during which they discussed various problems in existence in the Caribbean islands. The deliberations took a different tone when absentee Caribbean Nationals sought to find solutions for such problems. However, in truth, and in fact, they had not visited the Caribbean for several years, and right here in Canada, Black People were facing a multiplicity of problems, which the same absentee Caribbean Nationals seemed to ignore. As an outgrowth of the discussions, finally realizing the impossibility of problem solving by remote control, we founded an organization which came to be known as “The Canadian Conference Committee of Black Organizations” (Triple C) with the mission of addressing particularly housing and employment, critical issues for Blacks.

In setting up this new organization, we endeavored to reach out to all existing Black Organizations across Canada. In the process, my husband, who had been a post-graduate student at the University of Windsor, told me about this Outstanding Black Professor in the Department of Biology at the same institution. We invited him to be the keynote speaker at our conference, and within minutes of the delivery of his speech, he became The National Chairperson of 46 Black Organizations across the country which formed our Triple C (The Canadian Conference Committee of Black Organizations.)

Under Dr. McCurdy’s Leadership, the organization thrived. For our first big challenge, we successfully advocated that the law be repealed, in the issue where Nova Scotia refused to bury a Black baby in the cemetery alongside Whites. The event was highlighted on the National news and came to Howard’s attention. He called me and said: “We have to do something about this immediately. Send telegrams to all the Black organizations asking them to write to the Premier of Nova Scotia about the situation; tell them to send telegrams; writing will take too long, and tell them what to write in the telegram–tell them this is an urgent matter.” Within one week of this campaign, as Executive Secretary, I received a telegram which was read to me by CN/CP telecommunications as follows:

“I have given myself sufficient Provincial authority to repeal this and any such existing legislation from the Statue Books of Nova Scotia.

Signed: G. I. Smith, Premier.”


Buoyed with the enthusiasm of our first victory, we learned that the Canadian Council of Churches was meeting in Toronto. Howard invited New Brunswick Vice-president, Joe Drummond, to accompany him to the meeting. Their presentation to the Council of Churches resulted in a three thousand dollar grant to the organization to fight racism in housing and employment in Canada. The grant was a windfall because we had been operating out of our very own pockets. We even elected a Treasurer!!


At our first annual meeting of the Triple C, a number of groups arrived and sought to split the organization. Without missing a beat, Howard declared the Canadian Conference Committee of Black Organization adjourned, Sine Die and introduced a New organization: The National Black Coalition of Canada. The vast majority of the Black organizations continued with the NBCC and the newly formed organization established roots with Vice Presidents in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia. The new National body was incorporated, its aims and objectives set out in the constitution.


Shortly after its incorporation, at 1.00a.m one morning, I received a call from Howard which went like this:

“I want you to go to British Columbia–they seem to be having some problems between the Native born Blacks and the West Indian born Blacks, in the BC/NAACP organization. Go there and tell them to get serious–all Black People face the same problems regardless of where we were born”.

I went to British Columbia and did as I was told. We resolved the issues.

And soon we had to tackle yet another case. Two Black Civil servants in Ottawa reported some discriminatory practices in their workplace. Howard and his uncle George McCurdy, represented them on behalf of the NBCC and the matter was resolved to the satisfaction of everyone concerned. Howard was that kind of “hands-on”, “Mr. Fix it”, dedicated to the improvement of the condition of Black people in Canada.


He served more than one term as the President of the National Black Coalition of Canada.

He was well-respected by everyone within the organization, as well by the larger Canadian Community.

Under his leadership, the organization thrived: receiving government grants for the work it performed, which, among other initiatives, included a monthly Newsletter and the selection of a Canadian delegation for participation in the Second World Black & African Festival of Arts and Culture in Lagos, Nigeria. (FESTAC 1977 ).


His passing leaves a void on the Canadian Landscape. His academic brilliance, his vivacious personality, his commitment to excellence in all that he did, his demands of excellence from others whom he thought capable, and his quest for equality of opportunity for his people will never be forgotten.


Well done, thou good and faithful servant. May eternal rest be granted unto you, now that your work on earth is completed.


For Full Version of Semaji April 2018 Click Here

BCRC is recruiting Youth and Senior Participants for a new inter-generational project.

Our new seniors project is designed to bridge the gap between seniors and youth. In modern times there is reduced interaction between seniors and youth, which can lead to feelings of isolation among seniors. This gap can also lead to feelings of alienation and reduced understanding between the age groups. Our goal is to bring together a group of senior and youth volunteers who will exchange important information, relevant to their age groups, in order to foster a sense of understanding and positive interaction between the groups.

Black History Shouldn’t Be Confined To 1 Month A Year

Black History Shouldn’t Be Confined To 1 Month A Year

By Yvonne Sam (Chairman of Rights and Freedoms Committee at BCRC)

February just ended, which means for some I am out of time to weigh in on issues that affect Black people.

It is a known fact that beyond the 28 or 29 day stretch, the significance of Black history is analogous to a barely visible flicker in the dark of night. It is rarely the topic of any on-going conversations, and/or daily teachings to present the truths to the misinformed and under-educated populous at large.

One can never fully understand Canada without reference to Black people, but at the same time, Black people cannot afford to wait to learn about Black history when it is convenient for the rest of Canada, but instead should remain owners of their own enlightenment, keepers of their own achievements and ultimate missionaries of their own salvation.

Canada has, and continues to, pride herself on her exceptionally inclusive ways, even Quebec included. However, for this to ring true, recognition and contributions of all peoples must first take place. History must be told in its entirety.

Currently, Black people have been largely eradicated from the history books, so that there are no reminders of the brutal discrimination of the past — or the subtle racism of the present.

While inventions and new discoveries have changed the face of math and science in schools, history has remained static, under the assumption that our scholarship of it was factual and complete. How can this be achieved if certain facts fail to form part of history, and have left Black students to cope with the omission and erasure? In addition, invisibility within the curricula and the predominantly white demographic makeup of educators continue to negatively affect Black students.

Recent viewing of the documentary “Speakers for the Dead”, revealed some hidden history of Black people in Canada, and also hidden secrets of Canada’s past. The majority of the attendees confessed to never having heard of the “sundown laws,” being totally unaware that in the 1920s in Canada, Black presence in public spaces was restricted in some places with sundown laws, or curfews imposed that forced them to be indoors by a certain time.

The documentary served as a deflator to the “not in our backyard” myth, the false notion that persists to this day that Canada did not enslave Africans like our American neighbours.

A heightened level of shock permeated the audience on being informed that under Sir John A. Macdonald, abusive residential schools were created and the practice of segregation ensured that Black children receive substandard or no education.

The time has come for the history pages that were lost to be incorporated into the curriculum at any cost. The past must be faced with honesty, and the input of Black people should be included in the history books for all to see.

Intention alone is inadequate in producing change. School boards are called upon to diversify teaching staff, and provide teachers with reference books that will give students the true picture of Canada, so that the next generation will not have to face the same prejudices. Otherwise, the goal of an inclusive curriculum runs the risk of being relegated to a feel-good rhetorical attempt at compromise.

Originally published in Huffington Post:


For Full Version of Semaji February 2018 Click Here

BLACK HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATIONS: Is it any longer relevant in Montreal?

BLACK HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATIONS: Is it any longer relevant in Montreal?

By Dr. Clarence S. Bayne (President of BCRC)


Mr Egbert Gaye, the Editor in Chief and owner of Community Contact (Community Contact, Volume 28, Number 02 Jan, 26 20118) in an interview featuring Michael Farkas, the President of the Black History Month Round Table (BHMRT) posed the question: “Is the celebration of Black History Month any longer relevant in Montreal?” Egbert, in the lead up to this question, described the official opening event for Black History Month traditionally held at City Hall in a way that captures the feeling in the Black English speaking community. He said it is an event in which the Black English speaking community has lost interest and from which they feel that they have been excluded. By and large the key organizational leadership in the English speaking Black Community have absented themselves from the event; and the same is true of the major Black French speaking organizational leaders.

Let me put it up front I believe that the event in and of itself is important but for it to be truly meaningful and not be mere smoke and mirrors, the City Administration and Provincial government must show evidence that they are aggressively eliminating the systemic barriers to Blacks in their administrations and their distribution of resources. In general, most Blacks I speak to do not believe that this is happening or will happen. Moreover, because of my working relationship with the BHMRT I have had to respond in private to many of the questions and observations made by Egbert in his interview with Michael. So in this article I am going to pretend that I am being interviewed and responding to Community Contact and several other Community leaders from the English speaking community questioning me, as in fact they have, about the relevance of the celebration and the significance of the events at City Hall.

The first question. “Clarence as a leader in this Black community and a Professor I do not have to tell you that Black history is about life, survival, and living. We do that every day. So why you and your friends get together with the City to celebrate Black History for only one month in the year? Do you feel that makes sense?”

The first thing I do when I attempt to answer this question is to get out of this leadership role that is so gratuitously being assigned to me. Because it usually is a trap. So I make the point that I want to breath fresh air, drink clean water, and to be safe from the cold and other inhospitable things like ”bad mouthers”, reproduce myself and feel good. But I can’t do that to the maximum possible without making sure that some others also survive. So I do what I have to do (act responsibly) so that my true friends and my family all have a better chance. So let’s drop the preamble, “as a leader, etc,” Moreover being a professor is how I make a living salary. That’s it. Having said that, I agree with those that say “Black history month is every day”. But I think that when we compare Black activities and visibility in the early sixties with today, we are living our history and reproducing our cultures as a people incredibly more than we were then. Unfortunately, we are doing it under great stress and negation by the mainstream White culture and the levelers in our own community. Part of the problem is that we have no one telling our stories and singing the praises of our achievements between the events at City hall. So we are more likely to hear the voice of the personality assassinator than the creative voice of achievement and hope. But the reality is that the activities that our children take for granted today and question did not exist in 1960: there were only 5000 Blacks living mostly in Little Burgundy; there were only three Montreal born Blacks at McGill and Sir George University; and Mr. Clyke, with a Master’s degree, could only find work as a porter on CNR. There was no Black Theatre Workshop, no Vues d’Afrique, no Nuits d’Afrique, no Black Film Festival, no Carefiesta, no Ragae Festivals, no Jamaica Day, no Trini Day, no Oliver Jones, no Charlie Biddles, no Oscar Peterson, no Blue Ribbon or DouDou Boicel Jaz Festival, no Calypsonians, no Eddie Tousaint, no Zab nor Westcan, no taste of the Caribbean, no African and Caribbean restaurants; no Caribbean Associations, no Black Doctors or Nurses, no University trained managers and professionals, etc. Blacks were trapped in low paying jobs as porters with CNR and CPR, suffered discrimination at most restaurants, night clubs and bars, and were not permitted to rent in most neighbourhoods of the City. We began to push back the barriers to our progress from the mid-sixties during the “quiet revolution”. The Sir George William computer Crisis, the Black writer Congress, the creation of the National Black Coalition of Canada represent high points in the struggle to change the inhospitable landscape that we met in the late fifties and early sixties.

In 1991, a group of activists went down to City Hall and told the mayor that we were fed-up with being excluded from the cultural, social and economic proprietorship of this City and Province, and that we wanted our culture and contributions recognized. We wanted greater strategic control in the social, cultural and economic life of the City. The City Administration of the day, under Mayor Jean Doré, agreed. The City not only agreed but become engaged in getting the province to put in place a Table de Concertation to address the broader issues of racial discrimination and the economic isolation of the Black community in Montreal and Quebec. To accommodate this the Black Community Forum was created in July 1992 to mobilize the Black English speaking Black communities.

Concretely, one of the things the City and the Black Community leadership agreed to was to adopt the Black American model for Black History Month and officially declare February Black History Month, to be celebrated by all Montrealers. This declaration did not give ownership to the City Administration. Nobody owns Black History month. It is a time for celebration of our presence and contributions and to get some recognition of the contributions of Bauxite, Sugar, cotton, banana, rum, citrus and slave labour to the development of the British Empire and Canada. God knows in the English speaking Caribbean we ate a lot of salt fish tail and processed salted herrings not suitable for European markets to keep cost cheap and profits high for the Canadian and its booming Maritime economies of the time. In effect, “Black History Month” in North America and the Caribbean evolves out of the English speaking Black experiences of the triangular mercantile trade, and slavery and capitalism. It is a celebration of the victory of the Western Black victory over the hell hole of plantation slavery and the embracing of hope and the march to the “mountain top”.

It would be crazy for us, as Blacks, to say that the City and Province should stop this symbolic and official recognition of Blacks; that only Blacks should celebrate Black History Month. The latter would defeat the purpose of the Event here in Canada. What we need to do is to get the mainstream to learn more about us and incorporate our contributions in a valid and more integrated history of Montreal and Quebec. That has to be a struggle that we must continue above all else. We cannot just allow City officials, policy makers and administrators to think that all they have to do is invite us to City Hall once a year and that we will be satisfied with a superficial type of fraternization. Unfortunately, this is what many activists in the English speaking Black community believe has happened since 1992.

The polite terms in which Community Contact puts it is that it has become an event where, after some chit chat from the Mayor and maybe the Police Chief, “guests will mull around the hall, chit chatting and enjoying the dipsy variety of cheeses, finger foods and wine whisked around by servers dressed in formal attire. And when it is all done it appears as if that is the end of Black History Month.” Egbert expresses a view that is widely held in the English speaking Black Community. And if you try to tell those individuals anything different, they will tell you that “you are just trying to defend your buddies.”

Egbert says that interest has waned and Michael, the President of Black History Month Round Table, agrees. But the reason is not, as Michael is reported as saying, that there is a “societal shift towards acknowledging diversity in a broader sense.” Black History Month in North America is not simply about diversity. It is about reconciliation, inclusion and community education and the correction of history. The concept of a larger diversity is the type of avoidance that one might expect from the French nationalists pre-occupations with distinctions between “multiculturalism” and “inter-culturalism” or their increasing impatience with the “others” cultures. In my opinion, what has really happened is that the population, both Black and White, sees the City Hall event as not pertinent to what they are doing. One thing I am constantly being asked is why, out of courtesy, English is not spoken at the event. Second statement of detachment is that the event is no longer an expression of the Western Black struggle for reconciliation, recognition and strategic control. The English speaking Blacks, especially the Caribbean English speaking Blacks, feel that they have been excluded from the decision making processes with respect to the City Hall event. In general, it is believed that the “Calendar” has two serious flaws: one is that it no longer promotes other events in the Black community outside the control of the Black History Month Round Table. Thus, at times, it is a competitor with the events it was created to support. The second problem frequently cited in both the Black and White communities is that awarding twelve Laureates per year raises questions about the value of being a Laureate. One critic actually said to me that awarding a laureate to a sixteen year old Black Youth for having gained a “Black Belt” is an insult to Youth achievers. A prominent Black politician complained to me about the seeming absence of consistent criteria for making choices of laureates. The person ventured the statement, that it should not be aimed at the superficial satisfaction of the individual’s need for self-actualization but at the promotion of excellence. Here again they say that the BHMRT seem to be competing with other Black agencies and not marking out a niche need area, like youth achievers in certain fields of endeavour, etc.

My Opinion
I do not believe that Black History Month is being honoured less. I believe that Black arts, cultural and social events have increased in quantity and quality; that these events are taking place throughout the year. I believe that the reason that there appears that interest has waned in the Black and White communities is because there is not effective coverage and encouragement of activities. Some attempts have been made to improve that situation by the Pan-Black Website created by an alliance of Black community organizations and administered by the BHMRT. But the BHMRT is awaiting support from the City and other sponsors to manage the site professionally. Also, I would like to point to the fact that the Black Theatre Workshop School Tour which takes place specifically for Black History Month has been booked for over forty schools in the English speaking school Boards in each of the last three years. Moreover, the schools have been inviting speakers to make presentations and participate in programs on diversity put on by the school staff themselves.

However, BHMRT has to become more active in supporting and promoting these events. In particular, it has to promote the initiatives of the Union United Church walking tour of its history all year round, as well as the Church’s Martin Luther King Jr Birthday church service; and it has to actively support the Vision celebration event of BTW as the opening event leading into Black History month; and the educational school tours during February. This is particularly important, since BTW was one of the original Black English speaking companies that lobbied the City to declare February Black History Month, and was active in the early years organizing and staging a number of its variety theatrical performances.

I do not think that Black History Month events alone should be responsible for defining us and our place in Quebec. However, it has put the focus on us in a way that is not the case with other cultural groups. But we must realize that it lends itself to being exploited as a mechanism for token recognition. It receives none of the kind of financial support that would qualify as identity defining support. It is the operations of agencies like Zab, Black Theatre Workshop, Nuits d’Afrique, Vues d’Afrique, Black Film Festival, Carifiesta, Blue Ribons, the Ragae Festival, the poetry jams and readings of Black artists, cultural displays by Concordia and McGill universities; and the University of Montreal, cultural sponsor of Black arts and culture such as the BSC Charitable Fund, Michaelle Jean Foundation, the TD Bank, the Cole Foundation, private arts and cultural events that are doing that work on a long term basis to define us and the roles we play in this society.

The City Default
On the other hand, the City has defaulted on early promises. It has cut key resources to the English speaking events such as the Carifiesta and the Black History Month celebrations. It has failed to give the full value to the contributions of Oscar Peterson and Oliver Jones here in this City where they were born, grew up and became World greats. Other Cities have done more for Peterson. No organization knows better than the Black History Month Round Table the sting of the slap we received as a community from the City in the 375th Montreal Celebration year of 2017.

Black English Speaking Community Gratitude and recommendation
We must commend the Organization and its President, Mr Michael Farkas, for the role they played in expressing our concerns and anger at our exclusion from the celebrative events. The Black History Month Round Table theme “Ici pour rester, Ici pour durer” represented our feelings as a community. Also the Black Community Forum partnership with the BHMRT was successful in representing the community frustration and anger at the rejection of BHMRT project for full participation in the 375th celebration. It led to the naming of a building in the Sud-Ouest after Oliver Jones. The news coming from the English speaking Caribbean sectors of the Black communities is that BHMRT needs to do more of this type of collaboration and to more actively promote and celebrate the English speaking communities and organizations. This is the message I am getting and asked to deliver.


For Full Version of Semaji February 2018 Click Here

Opinion: The Quebec Human Rights Commission Is Too White

Opinion: The Quebec Human Rights Commission Is Too White
By Yvonne Sam (Chairman of Rights and Freedoms Committee at BCRC)

The Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission has come under harsh scrutiny, following the hiring of a senior manager in its Investigation Division. The Commission has failed to diversify its senior management personnel, with almost no managers from racial minority backgrounds and no Anglophones. Now, front and center of conversations, are the concerns about this displayed inability of the Commission to practice what it preaches, especially as it refers to employment.

From its inception in 1976, the Human Rights Commission was constituted under the Charter of Human Rights and Freedom to ensure that Quebec’s laws, by-laws, standards and institutional practices, both public and private, comply with the Charter, which prohibits discrimination based on race, colour, ethnic or national origin and religion in the exercise of human rights and freedoms.

The organogram organizational chart of the Human Rights Commission shows that starting from the very top and with virtually no stop, diversity is totally disregarded. Both vice presidents, Camil Picard (Acting President) and Philippe-André Tessier, are Francophones and white. The same is true for 12 out of 15 senior managers.

Completing the landscape is an unprecedented absence of Indigenous and racialized Anglophones, which further serves to impair the decision making process.

Meanwhile, political uproar surrounded the appointment of the Commission’s first Black president, Tamara Thermitus, currently on sick leave since last fall. Before becoming head of the Quebec Human Rights Commission she found herself at the center of growing controversy as both parties in the National Assembly objected to her appointment, claiming that she was too “multiculturalist” and much too close for comfort to Dominique Anglade, Liberal Economy, Science and Innovation Minister who also shared her roots.

One is left with a troubling sense that the principal agency tasked with ensuring diversity is the one doing the least effective work. Another aspect of the problem may be that the true meaning of diversity in Quebec has not been fully understood where it matters most.

“It is time for the Quebec Human Rights Commission to look in the mirror, and cease the denial before they find themselves on trial.”

To juxtapose the current situation and place it in its correct perspective, the judicial system also displays a glaring lack of diversity. Of the more than 500 judges operating at different levels in the courts of Quebec, only three are black.

Considering the fact that at the level of the Commission decisions are made daily, the majority of which have a profound and long lasting impact on the lives of visible minority individuals, it’s important that diversity is reflected in the makeup of those who occupy the role of judge and listener. Plainly put, powerful institutions must or should reflect the society they serve.

In order to cultivate an arena of legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, Premier Philippe Couillard was called upon to give thoughtful and deliberate consideration to racial and linguistic diversity, and Anglophone and minority representation when filling existing vacancies, such as at the Human Rights Commission.

It is time for the Quebec Human Rights Commission to look in the mirror, and cease the denial before they find themselves on trial. All that is being asked is to carry out their mandated task by practicing what they preach.

This plea has sadly fallen on deaf ears as the task of creating and maintaining diversity has fallen to those who are themselves considered “diverse.” A leopard cannot change its spots and it is difficult to teach an old dog new tricks.

Originally Published in Huffpost February 2, 2018.


For Full Version of Semaji February 2018 Click Here