Opinion: After the Sexual Harassment Epidemic—What’s Next for future generations?

Opinion: After the Sexual Harassment Epidemic—What’s Next for future generations?

By Yvonne Sam

There are Weinsteins everywhere, but only in certain industries is there a Weinstein effect. Now for the sake of the coming generation we must from here on inspect how we teach sexual respect.

It is blatantly apparent that the time of reckoning for sexual harassment and sexual miscreants has finally arrived. Every day the name of a new high-powered figure is added to the chorus of accusers and accusations, ultimately bringing in its wake shame and career-altering consequences. Along with Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, L.A Reid, Ben Affleck, Dustin Hoffman, George H. W. Bush, Alabama judge Roy Moore, Charlie Rose, Brett Ratner, and the latest Disney Executive, George Lasseter, comes an unmistakable sign that methods formerly used by political figures, stars, top executives, directors and producers to cover up their wrongdoings is no longer working. (https://theconversation.com/taxpayers-are-subsidizing-hush-money-for-sexual-harassment-and-assault-86451e)

The proclivity for paying hush money to victims, and forcing them to sign heavy-handed non-disclosure agreements, can no longer buy silence. The veil of secrecy has been rent and a very clear message is being sent.

The latest surge of females such as Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Kate Beckinsale and Mira Sorvino stepping forward from the Harvey Weinstein fallout has certainly flicked the script on a culture that has become deep rooted in many industries across the board.

Abuse and mistreatment of women extend far beyond Hollywood. In a survey, conducted in 2015, by Cosmopolitan Magazine, of 2,235 female workers, one in three were victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. The survey also found that less than a third of women reported the harassment and only 15% felt the report of harassment was handled fairly. (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/1-in-3-women-sexually-harassed-work-cosmopolitan_n_6713814)

Dating from the 1970’s and onwards, the concept of sexual harassment, in its modern understanding, was a relatively new one, only being brought to public attention in the late 1970’s through pioneer organizations—Working Women’s Institute, along with the Alliance Against Sexual Coercion. The term nevertheless remained largely unknown until the early 1990s when Anita Hill witnessed and testified against the U. S Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. (http://time.com/4286575/sexual-harassment-before-anita-hill/)

Now, amid much perturbation surrounding unwarranted masturbation, exposed parts, lewd calls, obscene gestures, sexually graphic comments, groping and not coping, there still remain several unanswered questions, such as what created this environment, and who is prepared to step forward and change it. Lip service, anonymous accusations, or open scandals are certainly not the answer. Changes in workplace policies, revised legislation, abhorrence of silence in known cases of harassment, and greater employer demands among other measures may serve only as a panacea. (https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/health-safety/reports/workplace-harassment-sexual-violence.html)

The existing moral atrocities, and the ensuing toxic tidal wave, have not only aroused an undying hunger for justice, but a countervailing pressure to try and remedy the problem for the next generation. It is somewhat pathetic, that so many years after the feminist revolution, we have to teach men how to speak and behave in the presence of females, or, in more specific terms, how not to be a cad. Let us momentarily shift our attention to the ages of the men who have fallen from shepherds in disgrace to becoming mere sheep; they are either nearing retirement age, well past it, or far from being able to maintain a decent pace in any race. (https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/sexual-misconduct/weinstein-here-s-growing-list-men-accused-sexual-misconduct-n816546)

Our children have been taught to be wary of strangers, no going or showing, and certainly no taking of gifts or lifts. Even now, our children are still being taught to shout “Stranger! Danger!” when they are either in fear of being taken or forced against their will. With all the displayed silence surrounding the current sexual harassment saga, as our children transition into adulthood, how do we teach them to speak up and let their voices be heard? Where do we start? With society poised to play what part?

Future generations will look back on this recent tsunami of sexual upheavals and see an industry that allowed the powerful to prey on the powerless, and the multitude that were able to detect but failed to protect. Grown adults who used their fame and access to the industry as a conduit in manipulating young males and females into having sex with them, or getting them to do things against their will. (http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-mn-james-toback-sexual-harassment-allegations-20171018-story.html) And what’s with the locking of females in hotel rooms and blocking of hotel doors? (https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/10/11/16460164/harvey-weinstein-sexual-harassment-assault-accusations)

Yes, the younger generation will most certainly wonder how supposedly rational people could have yielded so easily to collective insanity. It is obvious that sexual harassment is an entrenched feature of the workforce, and firing or suspending an individual will not stop it from happening again. (http://www.legalvoice.org/sexual-harassment-at-work) Nelson Mandela, the first Black president of South Africa, said that, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. (https://blog.usaid.gov/2013/04/education-the-most-powerful-weapon/) So, from a very young age, the male and female population in our society should be informed of this prevalent problem, and the process of changing the mindset put into effect through the implementation of well-planned lessons.  Parents will now be called upon to play a greater role, and be seen as symbols in whom their daughters can confide, rather than someone from whom they will their secret hide. They should also be taught to immediately walk or run away when inappropriate behavior comes into play. Sexual harassment will never again peak if every victim vows to speak, not many years after the fact, but from the outset of the act.


For Full Version of Semaji December 2017 Click Here

Opinion: Democracy and Justice for Dogs, but Send the Muslims and Blacks Back Where They Came From!!!!!!

Opinion: Democracy and Justice for Dogs, but Send the Muslims and Blacks Back Where They Came From!!!!!!

By Dr. Clarence S. Bayne


There is an increasing tendency in Quebec for the far right and the vote hungry political leaders to offer Quebec society a scented rose with the serpent of systemic discrimination and racism lurking under the lips and between the curls of seductive petals. We are not racist they say. We are very tolerant of immigrants and other (non-French) cultures. But our Governments are too lenient with immigrants. Thus, the far right French nationalists reject any notion that there should be an enquiry into systemic discrimination and racism in Quebec, because they claim that that would be accusing and judging Quebecers (meaning French Canadians). This has found support in the ranks of the present government and many French Quebecers. As a consequence, the Couillard Liberals enquiry into systemic discrimination and racism has been abandoned and the Minister of immigration asked to investigate and consult Quebecers on ways in which to improve the Government strategies for the settlement of immigrants and for promoting equality and diversity within a French speaking Quebec society and economic system protected by the “notwithstanding clause” and Bill 101. There is an analogy here to the rejection of the Coderre Pit Bull legislation in Montreal and its subsequent withdrawal by the new Plante Administration.

The rejection by the Plante Administration of the previous Mayor, Coderre, administrative decision to ban Pit Bulls from the environments of Quebec as dangerous to life and the security of the public has unleashed streams of empathy from the population of dog lovers. It is so passionate and in the French language presented as no other language can; with such romantic vigour that some segments of the population may have been induced to wish they could be viewed as Pit Bulls: induce love and respect through fear and the cuteness of our “mugs”. The following is an excerpt from a comment to an article on the subject in Le Devoir of Saturday, December, 9 2017 (Les pitbulls ne seront plus interdits à Montréal):

“Je n’ai pas de chiens, deux chats seulemnt, mais lorsque je me promène dans la rue et que j’en vois, et particulièrement les pittbulls, je les regarde avec une certaine crainte, mais en même temps je voudrais m’en approcher tellement ils ont un regard tendre. De les interdire n’avait pas aidé ma cause, et je trouvais ça bien dommage, surtout que les maîtres les aiment tellement!

Moi aussi je crois que tous les chiens peuvent être dangereux quand on est cruel avec eux! On dit que parfois ils acceptent leur sort, ces pauvres bêtes! Un animal est tellement dépendant de nous: on les a domestiqués, il faut accepter de s’en occuper comme «nos enfants»! On leur doit le respect!” (Solange Bolduc)

Now, it is true that the indiscriminate framing and application of the law may have placed an unfair burden on the owners of dogs and unduly diminished the satisfaction owners derive from the relationship between this animal and the human person. Moreover, as it is quite effectively pointed out, the damage done in an attack from a Chihuahua is not comparable in its seriousness to that done in an attack from a Pit Bull. In some cases the latter has ended in death of the victim. So, clearly, there is room for differentiation in fines and penalties to fit the seriousness of the outcome of an attack. However, my observation is the swiftness with which the Plante Administration moved to correct the unfairness of the situation, to bring justice through the democratic process and logic to bare on the problem; as compared to the slowness of their response to the Black Community Forum request for a meeting to discuss outstanding business with the Black Community extending from the Tremblay Administration to the Coderre Administration. It also baffles me to understand the urgency, love and concern expressed by Quebecers for this unpredictable killer; while in sharp contrast the provincial politicians and nationalist groups act to ban hijabs and to deny the existence of the destructive impact of systemic discrimination and racism on the lives of immigrants, Blacks and other visible and non-French minorities. It is amazing that the Provincial Government cannot stand its ground with the same arguments and empathetic passion as Solange Bolduc makes for the Pit Bull. It is amazing that the French leadership does not have the courage to understand that, like the “dog” in this case, these human immigrants and minorities are at such a disadvantage in terms of their power position and dependencies on the established French mainstream that “il faut accepter de s’en occuper comme «nos enfants»! On leur doit le respect!”

“In the primitive unconscious of the unevolved White race supremacist, Blacks, indigenous, and other visible minorities are viewed as evolving and not quite capable of achieving……….”

We pose the question: Why? Why do they love the killing dog, but want to send us back? I believe it has to do with power relationships and Darwinian adaptation. Dogs have learned to be subservient and loyal to their “masters” in return for care, attention and defense. We even pick up their “shit” after them and build conversation and social spaces for them in our parks. For, they are the slaves that we wish we could have; that amaze and entertain us with tricks or fulfill our need for gladiator sport. They are things in our showcases. Humans in captivity and today’s democracies are much more inclined to act persistently, even violently, to free themselves from loyalties that restrict their freedoms at all levels and stages of their lives. The selfish gene borrows, steals, appropriates, collaborates when convenient and by whatever means, but closes the door after. At the end of the day, everything beyond the fence is suspect and foreign to its central interest, life by any means. Everything outside the gated kinship group is a threat. In the primitive unconscious of the unevolved White race supremacist, Blacks, indigenous, and other visible minorities are viewed as evolving and not quite capable of achieving, when left to themselves, the excellence of Whites (the Aryan races). The anger of those human species that Arthur De Gobineau and his modern day followers (Hitler, the KKK, La Muete, and institutionalized discrimination and racism) rank at the bottom of the Mosaic totem scale are not viewed with the same understanding as the behaviour of the Pit Bull that has been cruelly treated by humans. Our anger, accumulated after years of oppression; of being  racialized, stripped of our self-esteem and reclassified as humans without the capacity for developing a soul, is associated with the imperfections and dysfunctionalism assigned to Blacks and indigenous people by Western race theories and the practices of White supremacy. It is a systemic discrimination and Fascist way of thinking and organizing the world. It is the Mission School way. It produces reconciliations and apologies without change. The only solution is the continuous and relentless democratic and morally responsible struggle against the persons and systems that support this distortion in thinking and misplaced compassion for Pit Bulls over other humans: US.


For Full Version of Semaji December 2017 Click Here

Meeting of Black Community Forum with Culture Montreal

Meeting of Black Community Forum with Culture Montreal

By Dr. Clarence S. Bayne
President of BCRC


Chair of the Secretariat of Black Community Forum, Editor of Semaji, Administrative Coordinator of BCRC, Artistic Director  of Black Theater Workshop, General Manager of Black Theater Workshop, Union United Church Representative, Black Writers Guild Representative and Coordinator of Logos Readings, Directrice du Développement Strategique de Culture Montreal, Directrice générale de Culture Montreal, and Member of Board of Culture Montreal.

The meeting was opened by the Directrice du Développement Strategique de Culture Montreal, who introduced the members of Culture Montreal and welcomed the members of the Black Community Forum. She briefly described the process in place at CM for restructuring the organization (Culture Montreal) so that it could more effectively foster and promote diversity as a central principle in the development of arts and culture in Montreal. She, and the Directrice générale of Culture Montreal, set out the challenges of embarking on this plan of action and the anticipated implementation problems. But the organization is committed and resolved to see it through. They expressed the desire that the Black Community Forum (BCF) and its member organizations support Culture Montreal and its network to achieve the objectives set out in the organization’s Action Plan, which has been constructed after extensive consultations with a large number of organizations and persons. Among those were the Black Theatre Workshop, and the Black History Month Round Table.

Dr. Bayne thanked Culture Montreal for inviting the Forum to meet with BCF and briefly presented the mission, mandates, principles and purposes, and operating structure of the BCF against the background of two documents circulated to the CM administrators in advance of the meeting. BCF focused its observations and comments on the principles of inclusiveness in a democracy that constitutionally recognizes and respects diversity. It was pointed out that the Forum is a network of 13 English speaking Black Community organizations. He stated that these organizations represent a wide range of cultural and community activities; and minority artistic expressions. Moreover, these organizations have been providing services to the Black communities and contributing to the art and culture of Montreal for 25 to 100 years, if not more. Bayne, and the Artistic Director of BTW, summarized the concerns expressed by the Black English speaking artists and cultural organizations at the October 27th 2017 Conference and Meeting. Bayne drew attention to the well documented and recognized fact that the contributions of Blacks, and English speaking Blacks in particular, have been eliminated from Quebec’s history and ignored in Quebec and Canadian societies. He said it is absurd that a Black man (Mathieu DaCosta) helped Champlain to win the welcome and acceptance of indigenous peoples of Quebec, yet Blacks were denied full participation in the 375th planning, presentations and displays. In particular, the exclusion of the English speaking communities from full participation in Montreal’s 375th is dishonest and insulting. Bayne re-echoed the complaints of cultural leaders and artists at the Forum (27 October 2017) about systemic discrimination and biases in the funding of minority arts and culture, and, in particular, the English speaking and Black artists. This was referenced by both the artistic director of BTW and the representative of the Black Writer Guild (Logos Readings) who spoke of the difficulties of Black and other minority writers getting financial support from the funding agencies. Bayne talked about the distortions to Canadian multiculturalism that result from the persistence of the “two founding nations” concept and “linguistic duality” under-pinning the institutional arrangements and agreements that hold the Country together under the threat of separation. He said that in the present arrangements, Blacks and other minorities have become second–class citizens, enclaves of one or the other “Settler class” mainstream language entities.

Bayne stated that the Secretariat of BCF is encouraged and inspired by Culture Montreal’s reengineering of its structure and reinventing the organization to empower itself “to foster greater inclusivity” and respect for diversity. He said that BCF espouses the principle of “collaborative unity and existential responsibility”, which he associated with the concept of network leadership, as opposed to centralized top down management leadership. He said that the days of the “superman leader” are gone. He made the observation that Culture Montreal’s intention to “reflect as completely as possible on issues and realities regarding the participation of all Montrealers in culture, across our territory and through the bodies and activities that make up the cultural scene” addresses and supports the demands of BCF for full participation of English Speaking Blacks and other minorities in the policy making, the art and culture, and decision making processes of the society. A summary of the Culture Montreal Diversity Project is presented below:

Culture Montreal Diversity Project Observations and 2018-2020 Action Plan

To arrive at its Action Plan, CM held several consultations and sensing meetings with a large number of persons and organizations. The Observations made at the various sessions by persons and organizations involved in the Culture Montreal’s consultation process that preceded its action plan (2018-2010) are grouped under three categories that constitute the focus for Culture Montreal planned reform. They are:

Focus1: Representativeness and instrumentalization of cultural diversity in artistic and cultural life and practice.

Focus 2: Access and systemic obstacles can hamper development and prevent citizens from diverse communities from participating in arts and culture life.

Focus 3: Governance and inclusion with Culture Montreal and the Entire Cultural Community

From the sub-categories (influencing sub-factors that make up each of the categories/focus) Culture Montreal has developed three objectives which are part of its three year Action Plan.

Year 1: 2018
Objective: Create the conditions internally to foster greater inclusivity within Culture Montreal (CM), the Board, working Committee, team, activities, events, etc.

Year 2: 2019
Objective: Consolidate good governance, practices, and extend the influence of Culture Montreal’s efforts beyond the organization.

Year3: 2010.
Objective: Acquire tools to make diversity project efforts permanent.


CM stated that there are a number of changes in its by-laws and policies and structure that Culture Montreal is in the process of making before it can operationalize its revised mandate and mission; and carry out its purposes of artistic and cultural diversity and complete inclusivity. However, CM is prepared to work with BCF and individually with member organizations to assist with access to resources, facilities, programs available in the City and other public and private spaces.

CM’s overarching policy requires that it work with anyone in the Arts and culture that wishes to work with, or seek, its assistance. Of course, this is subject to its limited resources. However, CM recognizes that greater efficiency and effectiveness is achieved if groups collaborate. CM is also prepared to work with and assist clients and partners even while they (CM) go about creating the internal structures and capacity for accomplishing the long term objectives of its Action Plan.

BCF has put CM on notice that it wishes to have its assistance to engage the City and Tourism Montreal and Canada to work with the Black Community Forum to create a Black Creative Tourism Sector based on the creative artistic and culture competences of artists and cultural institutions in the Black English Speaking Communities. The Secretariat will be pursuing this by developing a proposal drawing on expertise and assistance of CM. The initial plan will engage specific member organizations of the BCF (Union United heritage and historical program; BSC and partners archival displays, BCRC Education and history walking and audio tours). [Such a proposal has been placed in very general terms on an agenda at the City under the Coderre Administration].

The Secretariat of BCF will also speak to CM about helping to set up and participating in the BCF Toponomy Committee and advising on operationalizing it.

CM has invited BCF, and individual member organizations, to collaborate with it to assist in achieving its diversity and inclusivity objectives. We note from the Action Plan circulated at the meeting that two of BCF member organizations, BHMRT and BTW, participated as individual sovereign organizations in the reflections meetings called by the CM and leading to the development of its Action Plan.


Explicit in the working action plan and collaborations between organizations is the principle of good governance and best practices. This is also as guiding principle of the Black Community Forum.


For Full Version of Semaji December 2017 Click Here

QUESCREN Call for Papers

Download (PDF, 228KB)

The ‘English Boss’ and Company Towns: Quebec’s English-speakers in the industrial economy, then and now


Call for Papers

Deadline for abstracts: January 18, 2018

Date of Event: May 9-10, 2018

Université du Québec à Chicoutimi Saguenay, Quebec, Canada



Canada’s Black Walk Of Fame: Portia White

By Ashlie Bienvenu


With the holidays right around the corner I’m sure everyone has had the opportunity to hear the carolers in the streets, or holiday music on the radio. So, for this issue, we will be looking back to a famous musical figure, Portia White. White, an Afro-Canadian from Nova Scotia, was admired for her ability to sing “spirituals with pungent expression and beauty of utterance (Historica Canada).” She was also described as having a voice which was “a gift from heaven (Historica Canada).” White is significant to the Black Community due to her efforts to break through the colour barrier and become the first Black Canadian to gain international fame as a concert singer (Canadian Encyclopedia). This can be seen through her early years and performances, her time as a teacher, and the awards and recognition that she later received.

Born in Turo, Nova Scotia, in 1911, to William A. White and Izie Dora White, Portia White was a descendent of Black Loyalists who fled to Nova Scotia, after the American Revolution, to escape slavery in the United States. Due to the fact that her father, William White, was a minister, Portia White began her music career at the age of six, singing in the church choir, under the direction of her mother, Izie Dora (Canadian Encyclopedia). By the age of eight Portia had learned parts from the Lucia di Lammermoor opera and was asked to sing on the Canadian radio (Black Past). White was so dedicated to her craft that she would walk 10 miles for music lessons (Canadian Encyclopedia). White participated in a Halifax music festival in 1935, 1937 and 1938, where she won the Helen Kennedy Silver Cup. White, a recognized talent, was given a scholarship by the Halifax Ladies’ Musical Club, to study at the Halifax Conservatory of Music, in 1939, with Ernesto Vinci. Once she completed her studies, in 1941, she began performing as a contralto, at the age of thirty (Canadian Encyclopedia). It was in 1944 that White made her first debut into United States, when she auditioned for the Metropolitan Opera, in New York City, which was managed by Edward Johnson. White was the first Canadian to sign with the Metropolitan Opera (Black Past). While White did not make any recordings in the studio, there are a few concert recordings, most notably the song Think on Me, which can be found (Canadian Encyclopedia).

In 1939, at the University of Dalhousie, White gained her teaching degree and began teaching in Africville. She later resigned her position, in 1941, to concentrate on her music career. Once she had retired from music, in 1952, due to physical difficulties and voice strain, White went back to teaching. She went on to teach voice at Branksome Hall, in Toronto. Some of her noteworthy students included “Dinah Christie, Anne Marie Moss, Lorne Greene, Don Francks and Robert Goulet (Canadian Encyclopedia).” Although White decided to go back to performing part-time, in the mid-1950’s, her performances were sporadic through the fifties and sixties. One notable performance for White, however, was a performance for Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II, in Charlottetown, in 1964 (Canadian Encyclopedia).

White’s legacy lives on in the fact that “her popularity helped to open previously closed doors for talented blacks who followed (Black Past).” A Maritime newspaper, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, once dubbed her the “singer who broke the colour barrier in Canadian classical music (Historica Canada).” Due to her lifelong achievements, and contribution to the Black community, “White was named a ‘person of national historic significance’ by the Government of Canada (Canadian Encyclopedia),” in 1995. White was also awarded with a stamp of herself in 1999, a sculpture in front of a Baptistst Church in her hometown in 2004, and an award in her name, the Portia White Prize, which is given every year to “an outstanding Nova Scotian in the arts (Canadian Encyclopedia).” White was also awarded the Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously in 2007 (Canadian Encyclopedia).



King, B. N., So, J. K., and McPherson, J. B. (June 21, 2007). Portia White. Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/portia-white-emc/.

Portia White. Historica Canada. Retrieved from http://blackhistorycanada.ca/arts.php?themeid=22&id=2.

White, Portia (1911-1968). Black Past. Retrieved from http://www.blackpast.org/gah/white-portia-1911-1968.


For Full Version of Semaji November 2017 Click Here

Opinion: Righteous Outrage Over Racism Is Now More Important Than Ever In Quebec

By Yvonne Sam (Chairman of the Rights and Freedoms Committee)
Originally Published in Huffington Post, November 27, 2017


The cancellation of systemic racism hearings means that there will be no focus on understanding the perilous effects of the problem on visible minorities’ well-being.

After Québec Solidaire MNA, Amir Khadir, tabled a 2,662-signature petition in the province’s National Assembly, calling for “a consultation commission on systemic racism” to be created, Premier Philippe Couillard’s government announced that it would look into the issue.

Then, in May, Kathleen Weil, immigration, diversity and inclusion minister, unveiled plans for a public consultation on systemic discrimination and racism in Quebec, which was scheduled to start in September.

Public consultations would address discrimination in employment, education, health care, housing, public security and culture. Premier Couillard mandated the Quebec Human Rights Commission to organize and lead the consultations, with the aim to put forward concrete and permanent solutions that engage all of Quebec society in combating these problems.

The commission would submit recommendations to the government, which was expected to release the findings and an action plan next spring.

In April, just a month before plans were set to be revealed, the Parti Quebecois accused the Couillard government of playing with fire. The party launched a petition against the commission.

On Oct. 18, the Couillard government announced an overhaul to the controversial initiative, cancelling systemic racism hearings and changing the focus to economic opportunities for visible minorities and immigrants.

“Blacks, along with other racialized people, have been left out in the cold and they cannot afford to be put on hold.”

In addition, Weil lost her immigration and diversity portfolio to David Heurtel. The project is now called “the commission on valuing diversity and fighting against discrimination.” I hope that there are no plans to sweep racism under the rug, as the emanating dust would be too much.

My recent column, “Political Demission at the Quebec Human Rights Commission,” is now being revisited, because there has been no response to the announced cancellation.

Quebec appears blind to the reality of racism and discrimination, and also the possibility of ensuing pain — a pain that unleashes itself in structural circles, meanders through the docks of courtrooms, finally ending in the unjustifiable deaths at the hands of law enforcers.

Politically speaking, the pendulum of public attitude regarding racism and discrimination has reached the limit of its swing, once again exposing the cold, hard truth that the story of racism will never be told, especially since from the outset opposition parties had, in no uncertain terms, called on the government to scrap the consultation process altogether, claiming that it puts Quebec society on trial.

In a September ninth La Presse piece, Francois Cardinal also urged Couillard to abandon the consultations, if he didn’t want to be found guilty of arousing the ashes of intolerance.

If the truth is to be both known and told, not only is a trial needed, but also long overdue. This continued reluctance to forthrightly confront racism persists and is also responsible for the economic disparities which impede race relations gains.

Another challenge lies in the fact that Couillard, among many others, covertly dismisses the fact that in Quebec, certain privileges are afforded and enjoyed by certain people, and further discounts any relevance of past practices having a bearing today. To behave as if racism does not matter is to deny the absolute truth, and this again is part and parcel of how wide the divide is.

Plainly put, the cancellation means that there will be no focus on understanding the perilous effects of interpersonal and institutional racism on both the psychological and physiological well-being of minorities. Let us not be misguided in thinking that institutional racism applies to a physical institution or building. We are the institutionalized racism, and become part of institutionalized behaviour each time we fail to stand up, turn a blind eye, walk away thinking that it is not our problem, hold our heads down or fail to intervene when we see someone being harassed or discriminated against.

Yes, the very racism which Quebec has so long failed to acknowledge can psychologically affect its victims by allowing society to deny their true value as individuals, and by compelling them to internalize the racist conceptions of themselves held by the dominant culture. Notwithstanding the odds, it is imperative that the present cancellation be seen as an opportunity to bring collective weight to bear. Sustained public pressure is the only way to make this happen. Blacks, along with other racialized people, have been left out in the cold and they cannot afford to be put on hold.

The overwhelming response of disbelief at the cancellation should herald the beginning of new commitments to sustain and transform righteous outrage into a collective resolve, focusing on strategies that would unapologetically benefit all affected racialized minorities. Racism remains a major issue that cannot be ignored. The facts are undeniable and should Quebec continue on the path of disingenuousness, a very painful confrontation may eventually ensue. According to Pope Francis, “racism today is the ultimate evil in the world.”

Premier Couillard cannot have his say and also his day — he put in motion an independent process under the control of the Quebec Human Rights Commission, only to dabble at the rumblings of a rabble.

Sustaining righteous outrage is now more important than ever.

Original article can be found at: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/yvonne-sam/righteous-outrage-over-racism-is-now-more-important-than-ever-in-quebec_a_23265250/


For Full Version of Semaji November 2017 Click Here

The Carl Whittaker Communology and Black Progress at Canada 150th and Montreal 375th

By Dr. Clarence Bayne


The Black Community of Montreal has recently (November 2017) lost a leader that played a key role in the settlement of the large influx of Black immigrants to Montreal in the period 1960 to 2000. Carl (Lamumba) Whittaker. He was one of those immigrants that came to Montreal from Barbados, W.I., in 1966, to study at Sir George William University. It was a time of major social and political change in the former British colonies, and in North America. The emergence of Black organizations in Montreal, during the sixties through to the mid-nineties, follows a logical process, which I have described elsewhere, using patterns of simulated behaviours by intelligent and cultural agents in complex adaptive social systems. Human systems can be described using models of complex adaptive systems where the interactions between all existing and possible agents that make up the system are often random and so large that the outcomes are unpredictable. Making decisions about the best response to rapid change in the total environment is like taking a random walk in space. The psycho-social and economic environment can become so volatile that life gets stuck at the survival level of human existence. The role of leaders (the social entrepreneur) in such a system is to search for ways to ensure the sustenance of the community and improve the well-being (objective and subjective) of its members. My research shows that Blacks in Montreal, over the period 1960-2000, took significant action to achieve this objective. They created an impressive number of agencies aimed at providing services that informed the newcomers about workings and living in Montreal, entertainment, social activities, accommodation and essential services, health, education and employment possibilities, rights and freedoms, and about Canadian culture, customs and traditions. The research shows that several of these organizations were of a cultural and political nature and specialized in creating new social and cultural spaces, greater opportunity for full participation and improvement in the wellbeing of the members of the communities they served. One of the serious barriers to the growth and improvement in the wellbeing of the populations of African ancestry seem to stem from the fact that the community racialized as not-White were fragmented into a multiplicity of subcultures associated with and having their origins in many countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and other parts of the world. Moreover, notwithstanding their racial identity in Canada as Black (of African descent), these cultures were essentially closed to each other, social and cultural distance, and histories of colonial capitalism, and neo-liberalist capitalism and administration.

The simulations of human social systems, using complex adaptive systems theory, show that the greater the fragmentation (greater the number of closed cultural sub-groups) the smaller the objective and subjective wellbeing enjoyed by the members of the larger group. In the seventies and eighties, the leaders of the new Black immigrant groups in Montreal, Quebec, recognized this problem and moved aggressively to create alliances and coalitions. One group lead by Clarence Bayne, Winston Nicholls, Carl Taylor, George Richardson and Ivan Morrison, a former founding President of the Jamaica Association, moved to create a federation of Caribbean associations. This lead to the creation of the Caribbean House (1964) by Black residents and students at Sir George William and Mc Gill Universities. At the national level Clarence Bayne and Dorothy Wills, in collaboration with leadership from across the country, moved to create the first ever national federation of Black organizations called the National Black Coalition of Canada (https://bscportal.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/expression-special-conference-1968-papers.pdf). At the same time (1968-1972), Carl Whittaker was convincing local leadership to support his concept of “Communology development” which used a version of Pan-Africanism as the unifying principle. This cut across gender, country of origin, religion and ideology, focusing on Africanness in the Canadian context as the only criterion for membership. Organizational membership was only open to groups that served the Black community independent of gender, place of birth, religion, ideology. He became the leading voice in the creation of the Black Community Council of Quebec (BCCQ) with its regional outreach associations and a number of Black specialist organizations that predated its existence. There were 10 key organizations involved, with outreach associations in La Salle, Laval, the West Island, the South Shore, Cote des Neiges and NDG. Its activities touched on every aspect of Black cultural, psycho-social, economic, and political life. BCCQ constituted the voice of the Black community on matters that had to do with Blacks as a community in the Canadian and Quebec societies, especially the English speaking Black community. This movement lasted for approximately twenty five years from 1970 to 1995.

At Canada’s 150th and Montreal 375th, we pose the question: What has been accomplished? Before we address this question, let me take you back to 1982, and an interview of Carl Whittaker, carried out by Cecil Roach, the then Managing Editor of the BCCQ magazine, Umoja (https://bscportal.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/focus_vol1_no1.pdf.). In this interview they address the question of the status of the Black Community in the Canadian and Quebec Societies.

[Carl], You have been intricately involved in many of the organizational efforts in the Black Community. What are some of the things that you would like to see Black people achieve in this society?

Mr. Whittaker:
Well…look, the history of the Black people goes back to the so-called founding peoples…to the first journey of Samuel de Champlain. In fact, the pilot and interpreter for Champlain was a man called Mathew Da Costa, a Black Man. Therefore, our history goes back into the very early period of Canadian history. However, if you look across Canada, you see no evidence of this presence. There are no Black institutions, there is no recognition of the fact that Black people were among the builders of the Canadian Nation. We have been deliberately excluded from the Canadian process, socially, politically and economically. One then begins to wonder what happened to Blacks who were part of the Canadian process. There are no institutions around that can mark with pride this tradition of our involvement in the growth and building of Canada. I react very vehemently to this. I assess it as being the ultimate effect of the racism that is inherent in White Canadian society. They deliberately write a whole people out of the Canadian nation-building process, out of history; to the extent that what is known is from the work of Black scholars deliberately digging around the archives and reconstructing the role that Black people played. It is as if we are a people like foot-steps on the sand just before a wave comes in and washes away the last evidence that somebody did walk there. We are a people without a presence, without an accumulated tradition within the Canadian process. Now, how do you establish that presence? We establish the presence by building institutions within the community that live on beyond the individual. My approach to community development is primarily institution building. Institutions that mark the presence of Black people in Canadian Society. Institutions that provide the services that are necessary for every human being to grow and to actualize whatever potential that individual has through life. I am not as pre-occupied with issue-organizing as I am with institutional development. Therefore, you hear me constantly say, “look, what we have to do is to create an organizational structure that present a representative infra-structure to the Black Community; one that is there whether Carl Whittaker is there or anyone else. It’s an institution that will last forever”.

That was Carl in 1982. Today in Quebec, under the clouds of French denial and neo-liberal betrayal, represented by the “notwithstanding clause”, Blacks are still excluded from the history of Quebec, ignored at the 375th   and reduced to an afterthought in some Borough events. They are still at the lower end of John Porter’s vertical Mosaic. We are still waiting for an apology and hoping to see a tear drop from the young Justin Trudeau’s eye that captures the pain that systemic discrimination, racism, racial profiling, and systemic exclusion have caused Blacks in Quebec and Canada.

Today, in the Back Communities of Montreal, there seems to be a prevailing opinion that, while there is significant evidence that many Blacks have benefited and have distinguished themselves as individuals, that, as a people of African ancestry, we have not accomplished much. On the angry side of the equation, there are those that say that the few have profited by the struggle of many but have given back nothing. They suffer the illusion that they are where they are entirely on account of their own work ethic and industry. On the other side of the equation there are those that argue that the social and political system is set up so that the country remains firmly under the control of a duality, the French settler classes and the English settler classes, and within those two groups all other sub-cultures and ethnicities are represented in scaled preferences, determined by constitutionalized and social systems of inclusion and exclusion. Predictably, as sub-cultures on the lower level of the totem of mosaic ethnicities, Blacks tend to show less development and less representation at all levels of the society as a cultural sub-group. There are many factors accounting for this. One is persistent race and cultural superiority traditions and beliefs still held and active in the conscious and subconscious psyches of the two settler groups; and another is denial of the existence of systemic and embedded racial discrimination in the social and economic arrangements of the society. In Quebec, the far right and the nationalist left are located between these two states. Unfortunately, the positions of most governments seem to be determined by the tug and pull between these two vectors. As I stated in an article in Community Contact, it should be no surprise that the enquiry on systemic discrimination and racism in Quebec is cancelled. Some members of Quebec’s La Muete will tell you that they are not racists, that there is no systemic racism in Quebec, and that such claims constitute a blackmail by people who have no respect for freedom of speech or have no logical explanation of their demands. They pronounce multiculturalism a failed experiment that has no future. This is the argument of a type of Darwinism based on fascist logic: there shall be in the end only one superior race. If I were to have to bet on the ultimate superior survivor race, I would not bet on La Muete. World relative rates of reproduction do not favour them. In fact, multiculturalism is favourable to their long term survival as a people on the world scale. The Black struggle in Quebec continues through the Black Community Forum. It has adopted the principles of organizational “collaborative unity and existential responsibility”. It is committed to the building and strengthening of Black institutions and creating effective communication networks as the way forward.


For Full Version of Semaji November 2017 Click Here

WE’RE HIRING AGAIN! Deadline: November 30th, 2017

Position: Animator


Position Overview

The Animator will be tasked with promotion, planning, structuring, and facilitation of workshops with either a boys or girls group in respective schools. Each group will be run within the project guidelines by the animator who will facilitate structured activities in accordance with objectives set out by the BCRC and the school they reside within. This person will report to the Project Coordinator on activities, issues, and act as an intermediary for general communication between school staff, parents and other facilitators and will be tasked with keeping detailed notes. The Animator(s) will work both in the school, and on occasion in, the community.


Duties and Responsibilities

  • Plan and facilitate group workshops in accordance with the program guidelines and the participants’ skills and needs.
  • Develop monthly work plans in accordance with program objectives.
  • Serve as liaisons between students, homes, schools and other contacts to help children who face problems, such as disabilities, abuse, or poverty.
  • Interview clients individually, or in groups, assessing their situations, capabilities, and problems to determine what services are required to meet their needs.
  • Counsel students whose behavior, school progress, or mental or physical impairment indicate a need for assistance, Identifying students’ problems.
  • Assist parents with understanding social dynamics of High School, and intervening appropriately with students.
  • Encourage group participants to provide mutual assistance and emotional support to each other.


Qualifications: DEC or Bachelors in Social Work, Psychology, Social Service, CRLT, Special Care Counselling or related field.


All interested candidates ready for this challenge are requested to send their resume to info@bcrcmontreal.com. Applications will be accepted until November 30th, 2017.

Black Community Forum

Black Community Forum

This list represents those organizations that have clearly indicated that they expect to be consulted and wish to participate and assist in helping to achieve the general priorities and objectives of the Black Community Forum:

  • To develop a process that will identify a long-term development plan for the Black Community.
  • To ensure that this planning process is a cooperative effort within the Black Community.
  • To identify and promote a structure to support the planning process.
  • To develop effective partnerships within the network of Black community groups and to encourage effective implementation strategies for the benefit of the total community.
  • To provide a Forum for networking and strengthening existing relationships.


These organization accept the principles and protocols of the Black Community Forum, and meet the requirements of being: non-profit organizations in good standing, or specially approved sub-units of accredited organizations that by their letters patent and missions and mandates contribute to the protection of rights and freedoms of all Canadians, to the development of sustainable social economies in Quebec and Canada and to the full participation of the Black and other minority communities into the society of Quebec and Canada.

Members Of The Black Community Forum

    1. BCRC (Black Community Resource Center)
    2. ICED (Institute for Community Entrepreneurship and Development, Concordia).
    3. QBBE (Quebec Board of Black Educators)
    4. BTW (Black Theatre Workshop of Montreal).
    5. BSC (Black Studies Center Portal and Archives)
    6. Black History Month Round Table
    7. Union United Church (and Outreach Programs)
    8. UNIA (Universal Improvement Negro Association)
    9. Kola magazine (Black Writers Guild)
    10. La Ligue des Noirs (he Black Coalition of Quebec)
    11. The PAN-Black/Pan-Afrique Events Portal (Alliance of Black Organizations).
    12. The Rights and Freedom Adhoc Community Committee
    13. BASF (Black Academic Scholarships Fund)



Supporting Committees and Collaborators

  1. The Health and Mental Health Connections
  2. CRARR (Center for Research-Action on Race Relations)
  3. REISA
  4. CEDEC (Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation)
  5. QAHN (Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network)


The Network Coverage

Because the Forum is based on the network leadership framework, it is rich in information and covers the entire range of human needs and social programming and development across diverse ethnicities: parenting, health, mental health, education, employment and employability, human rights and freedoms, economic development, political representation at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels of the society, strengthening of families, strengthening of organization structures, literacy, crime prevention, anti-racism and anti-profiling, arts and culture, creative tourism, etc.   Many of its organizations have been providing services to the community and contributing to the development of Montreal and Quebec societies for approximately fifty or more years. The Union United Church is like the spinal cord from which has sprung many inter-connected agencies and relationships. It is celebrating its 110 anniversary. The UNIA is older than 50 years. The Quebec Board of Black Educators (QBBE), the Black Theatre Workshop (BTW) and the QBBE are with us for 45 years and counting. Each year for approximately 40 years the QBBE has tutored and provided accreditation opportunities for more than 150 youth each year in the English School system of Montreal. That is, between 6, 000 to10, 000 youth over 40 years.


Resolution creating the Secretariat

It is the resolved that the Forum may act through its secretariat to mobilize and activate the social and political legitimization of organizations serving the community. It does so with the support of key organizations and leadership in the community, especially during crisis and on matters affecting the community as a whole (June 16 2016).


The Secretariat of the Black Community Forum

The Secretariat of the Black Community Forum is a permanent administrative structure created by the recommendation of the Val Morin Black Forum of 1992 and re-affirmed at the Forum of June 16 2016. It represents the members of the Forum, which are non-political, voluntary sector chartered organizations that provide services to the Black communities; that subscribe to the founding principles and protocols set out in the 1992 Val Morin Black Forum as modified by the June 16 2016 Forum of organizations; and whose missions and mandates are aligned to the priorities determined by consensus in the community and adopted at the General Forum.

The activities and responsibilities of the Black Community Forum are carried out by the Secretariat located in a designated community organization space and whose charter/ letters patent and mandate it is to engage in activities that develop and strengthen community based organizations. Currently, the BCRC provides the day to day administrative services and facilities. The BCRC, whose mission and mandate are based on a holistic community development approach, has been carrying out this function since 2000 through a sub-committee of the organization called the “BCRC Black Leadership Forum”. This has been renamed (since June 16 2016, Black Community Forum) the”Secretariat of the Black Community Forum”.

The Secretariat of the Black Community Forum is the administrative arm of the Black Community Forum. It is responsible for the day-to-day administration and carrying out of the directives and recommendations of the General Forum.

The Secretariat acts in strict accordance with the purposes, protocols, and recommendations set down in the Val Morin July 1992 modified by the June 16 2016 General Forum. These are described in part under sections 6.5 of the Black Forum Report (1992) and under the section with sub-heading, “Plenary Recommendations” in the document “Summary of the June 2016 Proceedings of the Forum”. According to the recommendation approved at the 1992 and 2016 General Forums the powers of the Secretariat to act is limited by the following regulation which states that:

the Forum will facilitate the review, description and formulation of the Community’s agenda, but … the community organizational structures remain the fundamental units that carry out the agenda”.

The message conveyed is that “the community is only as strong as the sum of its parts” knit together by the operating principles of “collaborative unity and existential responsibility.”


Responsibilities and functions of the Secretariat

The secretariat is required to carry out certain specific functions on behalf of the Forum. The following are function carried out by the Secretariat for the Forum:

  1. The Forum agrees that during crisis within the Black community, a special issues meeting, involving a cross section of community groups will be called to determine a policy direction, to develop a public position, and to mandate its spokespeople.
  2. The Forum will create a permanent sub-committee of the Forum for researching, identifying and preparing a list of those significant historic persons whose contributions to Black arts and culture, Black advancement, world peace, and order and sustainable development merit recognition in a manner consistent with best Canadian practices in toponymy.
  3. It is proposed that this permanent sub-committee consist of experts and representatives named from organizations whose mission and mandates involve them in research in social history and biographical studies.
  4. That the Forum undertake a detailed review of the current status of Black employment and employability in the Black communities to measure the changes, if any, that have taken place since 1992. That is, according to recommendation of the Val Morin Black Community Forum, that “A FORUM BE HELD TO INFORM AND INVOLVE THE WIDER BLACK COMMUNITY ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT”   planning. This is expected to include an investigation of the measured impact of the initiatives of all levels of government, private and public institutions, and social and private entrepreneurs on advancing the objectives of the Yolande James Task Force to bring about a full participation of the Black Communities in Québec Society. In particular, given Bill 101, the Secretariat is required to pay special attention to representing the needs, status and future of the English-speaking Black Communities.


Structure of Secretariat of Black Community Forum

Administrative Personnel


  1. Dr. Clarence S. Bayne, Chair of the Secretariat (President of BCRC, Professor Emeritus, Concordia; Director of ICED, Concordia). Responsible for Social and Economic Development.
  2. Mr. Sean Seales (Chief Administrator)
  3. Ms. Raeanne Francis (Administrative Coordination)
  4. Secretarial assistant (TBA)

Members of the Forum assigned to the Secretariat 

  1. Madame Yvonne Sam (Chair of Rights and Freedoms Ad hoc Community Committee)
  2. Mr. Michael Farkas (President Black History Month Round Table: Responsible for Pan-Black Identity Events Manifesto and the promotion of Black history, culture and contributions to the development of Montreal and Quebec).
  3. Dan Phillip, La League des Noirs.
  4. Erene Anthony, representative of the Union United Church and its Heritage Committee.


For Full Version of Semaji September 2017 Click Here

Canada’s Black Walk Of Fame: Oliver Jones

By Ashlie Bienvenu


It seems appropriate to dedicate this article to Oliver Jones, as he recently performed in Little Burgundy at the renaming of Sainte-Cunegonde Social Centre, into the Oliver-Jones Centre. The renaming was to honour a talented and renowned musician; however, the honour was also due to his dedication and commitment to his hometown, Little Burgundy. Oliver Jones has led a very amazing life, from his childhood as a prodigy, to his performing and recording points in his career, to the growing fame and subsequent world tours, and to his recent retirement. However, throughout all of these milestones, Jones has stayed true to his roots and remained a prominent influential figure in his community.

Born on September 11, 1934, in Little Burgundy, Montreal, to Barbadian parents, Jones had an early affinity for music. Considered a child prodigy, Jones was playing the piano in the Union United Church at the age of five, and playing in Café St-Michel at the age of nine. He later went on to play at clubs, one of which was the famous Rockhead’s Paradise. During his childhood Jones was tutored in classical piano by Madame Bonner, and later by Daisy Peterson Sweeney, the sister of Oscar Peterson. Jones later went on to tour the United States with a show called the Bandwagon. (Ware & Gagnon, 2016)

Jones worked in Montreal until approximately 1963, until he moved to Puerto Rico with his family to become the music director for the Kenny Hamilton Show Band. Jones returned to Montreal in 1980 and began to collaborate with Charles Biddle. They performed around Montreal, in bars and clubs, before opening a club of their own, the Biddle’s Jazz and Ribs, now called the House of Jazz, for which Jones was the in-house pianist. In 1985 Jones and Biddle recorded an album that caught the interest of Jim West, a record producer for the Jazz label, Justin Time. Jones, in a trio with Biddle and Bernard Primeau, recorded numerous songs. However, as Jones’ solo career took off, he was unable to devote his time to Biddle’s club. He played in Jazz festivals, went on tour around the world, and recorded over 15 albums. (Ware & Gagnon, 2016)

Jones also taught at Laurentian University, in 1987, and McGill University, in 1988, until his retirement in 1995. He was given many honours and awards, such as the PROCAN award, for his contributions to the world of Jazz, the Oscar Peterson Award, the Golden Ducat, Knight of the Ordre national du Québec, Officer of the Order of Canada, Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Award, for his contributions to the Black community in Canada, especially Montreal. Jones announced his retirement, originally, in 2000. He decided to continue touring in 2002 and continued with his music career until 2016, where, at the tenth annual International Jazz Festival, he announced his retirement due to health issues. Jones hoped that there would be young Jazz musicians to pick up the torch after him. (Ware & Gagnon, 2016)

One such young musician, who was inspired and supported by Jones, is the seventeen year old Montrealer, Daniel Clarke Bouchard. This young piano prodigy credits Jones as being his mentor and says that “It’s really changed [his] whole career, being able to be around [Jones] and have [his] career progress with his watchful eye.” (CBC News) Jones has made an impact on many young musicians from the Montreal Black Community. In fact, at his performance this past month, at the renaming of the Sainte-Cunegonde Social Centre, Jones gave a speech in which he declared he was “passing the baton to the next generations.” (CBC News) He also used this speech to give hope to the children who come from less influential homes and neighbourhoods. He uses himself as an example that, if you work hard enough, it does not matter which walk of life you come from. (CBC News)

Therefore, even though Jones is set to retire, his memory, legend, and good works will live on in Little Burgundy and, more generally, Montreal. Indeed, his name will live on in Little Burgundy, through the newly named Oliver-Jones Centre, which provides services to the St. Henri/Little Burgundy community. His hard work and dedication will always serve as an example to children to follow their dreams, no matter their circumstances.


Jazz legend Oliver Jones gives another ‘last’ performance after community centre renamed in his honour. (September 17, 2017). CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/oliver-jones-little-burgundy-1.4293790.

Ware, E. & Gagnon, A.J. (October 6, 2016). Canadian Encyclopedia: Oliver Jones. Historica Canada. Retrieved from http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/oliver-jones-emc/.


For Full Version of Semaji September 2017 Click Here