Queen Elizabeth Health Complex: New Status as “Super-Clinic”

By Ashlie Bienvenu

We are pleased to announce that, as of September 11th, 2017, the Queen Elizabeth Health Complex (QEHC), which predominantly serves the Anglophone community in NDG, has been given the status of “super-clinic.” (CBC News) “Ensuring ready access to both medical and alternative health services, the QEHC is an attractive option to avoid the overcrowding, delays and other inconveniences so often experienced in hospitals and CLSCs.” (QEHC)

The QEHC has a long history of service to the community, since “1894 when it used to be the Montreal Homeopathic Hospital,” (QEHC) situated on McGill College Avenue. The hospital was later moved to Marlowe Avenue, its current NDG location, in 1927, when there was a demand for more beds and space. This hospital became renowned for their cutting edge medical practices and attentive staff, so much so that they were honored with the name of King George VI’s wife, Queen Elizabeth. However, the hospital’s very existence was put in jeopardy when there was a government directive, in 1995, to cut health care costs through the closure of “Montreal-area acute-care hospitals.” (QEHC) In the year after this directive, “the QEH Board of Directors, the QEH Foundation and other bodies and individuals in the community joined forces and decided to take matters into their own hands by forming the Centre-West Community Health Corporation (CWCHC).” (QEHC) This new not-for-profit organization allowed for the continuation of acute care services in the community.

“The Queen Elizabeth Health Complex, under the management of the CWCHC, is therefore a reincarnation and a new legal form for a century-old community institution. Its mission is to provide efficient, readily accessible medical services, complementary and alternative therapy, as well as emotional and mental health services that will contribute to improving the health of our community in accordance with the policies and guidelines of the Government of Quebec.” (QEHC)

The QEHC offers services such as:
-A walk-in clinic, open 365 days a year
-A medical specialist clinic: cardiology, internal medicine, neurology, urology, otolaryngology, endocrinology, ophthalmology, and a special educational diabetes program.
-Imaging centre: radiology, ultrasound, digital mammography, bone density, and fluoroscopy services.
– The MUHC Department of Family Medicine.
– A dental clinic affiliated with the McGill University Faculty of Dentistry.
– Health services, such as chiropractic, nutrition, dietetics, physiotherapy, osteopathy, audiology and aesthetic medicine.
-Provides in-home nursing services.
-Mental health services.
-Complementary and alternative health care services: acupuncture, massotherapy, homeopathy, etc. (QEHC)

Please visit the QEHC website (http://www.qehc.org/) for more information.


NDG’s Queen Elizabeth Health Complex to become ‘super-clinic’. (August 25, 2017). CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-health-care-super-clinic-1.4262321.
QEHC. Queen Elizabeth Health Complex. Retrieved from http://www.qehc.org/.


For Full Version of Semaji September 2017 Click Here

Opinion: Quebec Systemic Discrimination and Racism Hearings Should Be Open

By Yvonne Sam (Chairman of the Rights and Freedoms Committee)
Originally Published in The Montreal Gazette, September 18, 2017


Testimony has a greater impact if one can see and hear the person testifying. The hearings are an opportunity to heighten public awareness.

The Quebec inquiry on systemic discrimination and racism has yet to begin hearings, but what’s already apparent is that the Couillard government does not want the exercise to be transparent.

When the consultation was announced in July, all Quebecers were urged to participate, with the hearings being touted as an occasion to find tangible and permanent solutions to the issues at hand. Now we learn that Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil and the Quebec Human Rights Commission have indicated that local consultations will be held behind closed doors, hidden from the eyes of the media and the citizenry, away from the public setting that was expected by the public.

According to a spokesperson for Weil, “The people who wish to be heard will be heard.”

But by whom?

Weil herself has proffered the defense that privacy will ensure that those testifying will feel open to relaying their experience.

No way! Poor say!

Systemic racism concerns the denial of political, economic and social opportunities to individuals on account of their race or ethnic background. Marginalized groups who regularly deal with discrimination, mistreatment and unfair treatment are used to not being heard and, above all, not being taken seriously, and may view testifying behind closed doors as an extension of that attitude.

Let us not forget that there are many who already have little faith in the government and its previous handling of racism and discrimination, and now are called upon to sit behind closed doors to discuss their sufferings and injustices. This is similar to the fox declaring that he is now a vegan so that he can oversee the hen house. The history of the beleaguered Human Rights Commission, mandated to oversee the hearings but currently embroiled in its own issues, speaks volumes in itself; if it had, over the years, done a better job of carrying out its functions, this public consultation may have not been needed. It seems as plain as falling rain that hearings behind closed doors must be for the benefit of the rights commission, as they are not helpful to the victims.

The decision to hold closed-door hearings may additionally be because the province is unwilling to stir up debate as was evoked by the Bouchard-Taylor hearings on reasonable accommodation a decade ago.

Certainly, testimony has a greater impact if one can see and hear the person testifying. For those who do not feel the impact of systemic discrimination and racism, and may not even know it exists, hearing testimony as relayed by media could be educational. It is challenging to see a problem or barrier if it is not within our lived experience, or to comprehend its urgency. The hearings are a good opportunity to heighten public awareness of these issues.

The second phase of the inquiry, open to the public, begins in November and features the testimony of experts and transmission of some of the issues raised by working groups that are to focus on specific areas, like education and employment. Why would only some of the issues be given priority, rather than have them all addressed?

Of further concern is the fact that the government intends to release the findings along with an action plan in the spring, just months shy of the general election scheduled for October 2018. That does not leave much time for implementation of any recommendations.

It is not too late for the government to clean the slate, for at the end of the day the objective is to have a better Quebec, where racism and discrimination would be sent into remission.

The closed doors should be opened wide, so there is nothing to hide.


For Full Version of Semaji September 2017 Click Here

Dr. Charles R. Drew

Canada’s Black Walk Of Fame: Dr. Charles R. Drew

By Ashlie Bienvenu


For our next inductee into the Black Walk of Fame, we look to someone who, while not born in Canada, gained the inspiration for his ground-breaking blood plasma discoveries at Montreal’s own McGill University. The story of his never ending determination in the face of adversity, and his fight for racial equality in the medical field, are truly awe-inspiring. This man surely deserves recognition, not only for his innovative medical discoveries, but also for his activism in the field of racial equality.


Charles Drew was born in Washington, D.C., in the year 1904. Even as a child he was hardworking, driven and goal oriented. These characteristics would later help him in his pursuit of education, in a field that did not admit many Black figures. While Drew ended up entering the medical field, he began his education with a focus toward sports. In his high school, Drew lettered in four different sports and was given the James E. Walker Medal for excellence in sports. Drew later went on to Amherst College, with an athletic scholarship, and received a reputation as a legendary athlete that brought his school to numerous victories. However, it was during this time that he developed his interest in medicine through his biology classes, his football injuries, and the death of his sister from tuberculosis. Drew graduated from Amherst in 1926 and began to move forward with his vision of medical school. Drew never gave up his sports, in fact, he turned many of his schools’ sports teams into champions; but, his new focus became medical school.


Drew, as a Black man, in a pre-Civil Rights Movement society, did not have many options in the racially segregated academics. Receiving an education in medicine was even harder, as many patients would have refused the services of a Black doctor. This did not stop Drew, however, and, when he was made to wait a year to get into Harvard, he decided to apply to McGill, which had a reputation for better treatment of racial minorities. While at McGill, Drew became a star athlete and student. He graduated second in a class of 137 students and won numerous prizes and fellowships in his time there. Drew finished off his time in Montreal by completing his residency at Montreal General Hospital, alongside Professor John Beattie, a bacteriologist who was working to treat shock patients with blood transfusions. It was during this time that Drew formed his interest in transfusion medicine. During his time at Montreal General, 1933-1935, Drew experienced a hospital fire, with many casualties. At the time, if someone needed a transfusion, they needed to find a donor on short notice, as there was no way to preserve blood for more than a few days. Therefore, a lot of the patients, during this fire, died without access to transfusions. This experience would later influence his research on blood preservation and blood banks.


Drew later decided to move back to the United States to teach medicine. With limited spaces available for Black men he was restricted to a position at Howard University. Drew would later push against these boundaries by continuing to rise in academia, as well as working to create a more tolerant environment for Black medical students. During Drew’s surgical residency at Columbia University, where he was the first Black man to do so, he specialized in research on fluid chemistry, alongside Dr. John Scudder. The focus of his research centered on how to “bank” blood, or preserve it. Drew and Scudder set up their research in Presbyterian Hospital, in 1939, where they set up an experimental blood bank. During this experiment, Drew and Scudder researched the best variables and conditions that would allow the blood to last longer. They eventually found, along with other researchers, that when blood plasma is separated from the blood it lasts longer and is more easily preserved. This discovery came in handy during the course of World War II, especially in Britain, which had been hit hard by the Germans.


During World War II, the American Red Cross Association and the National Research Council (NRC) got together to create a relief program for Britain, called “Blood for Britain”. Drew and Scudder joined the NRC’s Committee on Transfusions. Drew was later asked by the Blood Transfusion Betterment Association (BTBA) to take a more active role and lead the initiative for Britain, as the medical supervisor. Drew was credited with creating a standardized system for quality transfusion preservation methods. It was through his leadership that the program became a success. However, Drew eventually gave up his position due to the Red Cross’s segregated blood transfusion policy. Instead, he went on to become the Chair for the Department of Surgery for Howard University and train young Black surgeons to propel them to excellence.


Therefore, Dr. Charles Drew leaves a lasting legacy on the world. He revolutionized the system of blood transfusions, trained more than half of America’s Black surgeons between 1941 and 1950, and had an impact on the preservation of lives during the Second World War. Many people are alive today due to discoveries that were made by Dr. Charles Drew, and it is thanks to him that we have a large-scale blood bank system today.



The Charles R. Drew Papers. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from https://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/retrieve/Narrative/BG/p-nid/336


For Full Version of Semaji June 2017 Click Here

We’re Hiring

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.
  • Encourage group participants to provide mutual assistance and emotional support to each other.


  • Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, Psychology or DEC in Social Service, CRLT, Special Care Counselling or related field.
  • Previous experience working with children and families.
  • Excellent oral and verbal communication skills/exceptional client service skills
  • Ability to problem solve and multi-task.
  • Detail-oriented; strong organizational skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to work under pressure while juggling several competing priorities.
  • Ability to work and problem solve independently and as a team member.
  • Excellent computer skills (Microsoft Office: Power Point, Excel, and Word).
  • Spoken and written English (French an asset)
  • Crisis intervention skills an asset.
  • Cultural Sensitivity.
  • Experience (or related experience) with “at risk” youth an asset.

All interested candidates ready for this challenge are requested to send their resume to the attention of Ms. Raeanne Francis, Administrative Coordinator  at nfo@bcrcmontreal.com. Applications will be accepted until November 30th, 2017. Please note that we will only contact those candidates retained for an interview. . We thank you for your interest in working for BCRC.

Quebec’s Glory shown through our Story?

Quebec’s Glory shown through our Story?

Quebec and diversity are not fully compatible, but is there also a continued historical dissonance?

By Yvonne Sam: Chairman (Rights and Freedoms Committee) At BCRC


The recent outrage and consequent debacle that surrounded the St. Jean Baptiste parade, with singer Annie Villeneuve, on a float being pushed solely by Black males, calls for all concerned to nose dive into history books before sounding the alarm. Surrounding the float were droves of singing parade goers, fully bedecked in white from head-to-toe, which further caused social media to erupt in a brouhaha, criticizing the lack of representation and diversity by the organizers of the parade. The community quickly compared the images of the parade to historical depiction of slavery.


Let us not for one nano of a second forget the real meaning behind St. Jean Baptiste Day. According to the Prime Minister Hon. Justin Trudeau, “it is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the essential contributions Francophones have made to build the diverse, strong and inclusive country that we all call home.” In a like manner, Federal Heritage Minister, Mélanie Joly, said this year’s St-Jean and Canada Day celebrations are unique because they form part of 150th festivities from June 21 to July 2.


“On this important day, I invite Canadians to let the French language shine all across the country, and to celebrate the bright future of the Francophonie in Canada. This exceptional year gives us a fantastic opportunity to open doors and build bridges between the various Francophone communities that are at the heart of our history and our future,” she said in a statement.


Very clearly stated are the sentiments underpinning the celebrations. What was not stated, and was all wrong from the beginning, is the fact that no part of that display referred to Blacks during slavery. Maxime Laporte, head of the Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montreal, and organizer of the event, felt that the accusations were somewhat exaggerated and unfair. In his opinion it was pure chance that the Blacks were pulling the float. No time would be wasted on asking in what manner was the request for help stated and solicited, and did it not strike him as somewhat odd that only Blacks offered their strength. The head coach of the school’s football team also dodged the bullet by saying that he failed to see the imminent controversy and that the students were happy to be a part of the parade. Again, that behavior merits no input, for if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then the nomenclature duck is applicable.


A quick history lesson shows how far out the organizers were, and yet we allowed our racist animosities to run rampant. We played right into the hands of all segments of the Francophonies, rather than guide them back into the safe lane. If diversity represents a rattlesnake in Quebec’s garden, then slavery represents a python under our bed.


History is clear, as in Quebecois parlance, “clair comme l’eau de roche”. From its inception as a French colony in the early 1600s, Quebec has had an African-descent presence. In 1709, slavery was legalized in the French colony of Quebec. The first recorded case of Black slavery in this province was a young man “owned” by the English and “bought” by one Guillame Couillard, who was Champlain’s master builder.


Not much is known about this first Black resident of Canada except that he was baptized under the name Olivier Le Jeune, served as a domestic, and died, still a young man and a slave, in 1654. Two thirds of all slaves in the colony were Natives; one third were of African descent. In all, during the 1700s, 1400 Black slaves toiled in Quebec mostly as domestic help. They served as servants in the employ of individual households. The rationale behind the absence of mass slavery such as that in the United States was due to the colder northern climate present in Quebec that did not require massive numbers of slave laborers to work on plantations. It is further evident that no Black male slave could have been pushing any cart in Quebec.


Even in the face of slavery, there were different types of slaves, such as: chattel slaves, debt bondage slaves, forced labour slaves and serfdom slaves, names of which all speak for themselves.


Which manner of slavery was being depicted in the St. Jean Baptiste float? Or better still which type of slave was on duty pushing the float?


We must stand on guard always prepared to act and not react especially in the face of contrived pretext, agencies camouflaging an agenda in order to remain politically viable. Take time to examine the agenda. It is being disguised and hidden within the fabric of succinctly instigated racism, sexism and other forms of hatred and bigotry.


We allowed our clear thinking to be circumvented, and be thrown off the track by agencies displaying a blatant historical lack.


Aleuta—The struggle continues.


For Full Version of Semaji June 2017 Click Here

Wake up Quebec!

We, Society, Must Say No to Systemic Racism and Biases Against Minorities and the Mentally Ill. Wake up Quebec! You Cannot Truly be Master in the House if You Do Not Respect and Protect All of its Members


By Dr. Clarence S. Bayne


It is my opinion that police have become society’s paid killers. Policing and military defense is a natural response of the specie to preserve and perpetuate life. But, in racialized environments, and situations where members of the specie are mentally ill, there seems to be a social license given to police to kill, as oppose to apprehend and control, members of those two classes of persons whose actions may, at the time, arbitrarily be interpreted as a threat. So a Black, mentally disturbed, man holding a screw driver in two hands is judged to be a threat. A Black child waving a toy gun in a park is shot as a threat. Obviously, what we are dealing with here are brains that are maladjusted and lack the capacity and the empathy to react in situations like these. They lack the respect for the life of what they see as aggressive threating objects. If you look at the mythology and histories that have shaped these brains, they tend to transform the victims into living things that have no souls. This profiling can only be eliminated if society, and all of its structures and interacting agencies, create and retain behavioral algorithms that exclude these responses. The last few weeks in Montreal and Quebec have produced instances (including the Saint Jean de Baptiste galley slave parade social disaster) that did not inspire hope that such adjustments were possible. I, then, received an email of hope from my friend, Kingley Gilliam, Director of BADC Communications, declaring: “We are going to hold their feet to the fire.”


Mr. Gilliam wrote, concerning the ruling and recommendations relating to the Andrew Loku case in Toronto, that: “After Four weeks of hearings and 28 witnesses, a ruling by presiding Coroner, Dr. John Carlyle, said that he had examined the evidence in the case of Andrew Loku and found no evidence of racism, nor implicit bias in the circumstances leading to the Police shooting death of Andrew Loku, and that he would not allow any questions about racism, Anti-Black Racism nor Institutional Racism to be put to the final witness, Dr. Kwame Mc Kenzie, a world renowned Psychiatrist, with over 200 publications including five books and an international consultant and expert on Implicit Bias, Anti- Black Racism and institutional Racism”.


Mr. Gilliam then goes on to say that he objected and instructed their lawyer, Selwyn Pieters, to prepare to appeal that ruling to Division Court. Selwyn stayed up all night and prepared a motion, applying for reconsideration of the ruling by the coroner. The Jury has since delivered its verdict, which was read out in the open court by the Coroner. The recommendations are very enlightening and impressive. See below for the first 26 recommendations:



1. Using reputable, external educators and other experts, TPS should ensure that the Service develops and implements annual/regular training at division and platoon meetings with a focus on the equitable delivery of policing services. The training should acknowledge the social inequities and challenges faced by racialized communities and consumer survivors who have experienced mental health challenges and equip officers with skills needed to provide appropriate responses and service delivery. Training topics should include, but not be limited to:

-Bias-free service delivery

-Social disparity

-Equitable outcomes for all

-Stress and fear inoculation techniques

-Mindfulness techniques


-Crisis communication


-Implicit bias

-Trauma informed approaches

-Anti-Black Racism

-Visible and invisible disabilities


2. Measure the effectiveness of the above mentioned training in anti-Black racism and persons in crisis by requiring both a written and oral exam of the participants. Failure in such exams should result in requiring re-attendance at such training.


3. Mandate that all officers complete the Implicit Association Test as part of initial and requalification training.


4. TPS should continue to emphasize the importance of planning in a crisis situation to identify the lead in communication.


5. Expose or continue to expose officers in training to the perspectives and lived experience of racialized communities, the Black community and individuals with mental health issues and/or addictions.

6. Review the Intercultural Development Program deployed by the Toronto Police Service and consider the continued use of the Intercultural Development Inventory or other similar tool, as well as in-house intercultural competence facilitators, to further the intercultural competence of Toronto Police Service members.


7. Amend the annual Use of Force recertification to include qualification in areas such as mental health and/or addictions, anti-racism, particularly anti-Black racism, implicit and unconscious bias, fear inoculation, de-escalation and crisis communication.


8. Continue to emphasize that where the police challenge is issued and the subject does not comply, where possible, alternative methods of communication, de-escalation, disengagement and containment should be attempted. For example, consider making it clear that lethal force will be used if commands aren’t obeyed.


9. Consider the use of trained de-briefers to be deployed following exceptional critical incidents, having regard to any SIU investigation and the rights of officers, with a view to using the knowledge gained to inform de-escalation training. If resources permit, consider using the de-briefers in situations with positive outcomes as well as negative ones, even if they are less serious incidents, in order to learn from those occurrences.


10. Make mental health and/or addictions and policing of racialized communities, in particular Toronto’s Black community, a key component of Coach Officer training.


11. Ensure that all patrol cars are equipped with less lethal weapons, e.g., CEW, sock or beanbag guns and that all officers are trained in the use of such weapons along with defensive equipment such as shields and helmets.


12. Undertake a structural/cultural review and analysis to ensure that the Service has a clear policy with respect to serving and protecting persons with mental health or addiction issues and/or racialized persons, in particular, Black persons. The Chief’s review and analysis should include input from experts in this field together with persons in the communities falling within the above-mentioned descriptors. Following this, the Chief shall clearly state the TPS policy and communicate it in detail to all officers and employees. The Chief shall ensure that all members through continuous training have a clear understanding of the Chief’s mandate in this regard. Failure to follow the Chief’s mandate should have consequences and sanctions.


13. When making decisions about promotions, supervisors should consider an officer’s skill and experience in dealing with Emotionally Disturbed Persons (EDPs), members of the Black community and racialized communities, including their ability to de-escalate and negotiate during crisis situations.


14. Encourage the Toronto Police Service to make use of the Gerstein Crisis Centre police telephone line when interacting with a person in crisis.


15. Consider additional funding and training for 911 operators in order to improve their skills in extracting more pertinant information during an emergency call. Consider beginning the de-escalation process during a 911 call.



16. Maintain its existing committee on mental health in ongoing partnership with members of the mental health community (throughout this document, ‘mental health community’ means to include the phrase in particular people who have been directly affected by mental health issues), the Toronto Police Service and subject matter experts.


17. Establish a new committee to consider possible or identified disparities in services and outcomes for racialized persons and consider interventions to address any such disparities. The committee should include representatives of the Toronto Police Service, subject matter experts and members of racialized communities, including the Black community. The committee should consider the intersectionality of mental health and race both in terms of member composition and issues to be addressed.


18. Conduct a pilot study of two divisions (preferably 14 and 51 division) where there would be more intensive community involvement, education, and training (keeping in mind resourcing) concerning interactions with people who have racial and/or mental health and/or addiction differences to determine whether this has a positive impact on reducing ‘use of force’ incidents.



19. Offer education to the appropriate building superintendents and managers on information sharing policies; in particular, what sort of information ought to be shared with CMHA (Toronto Branch) housing or support workers about CMHA (Toronto Branch) residential clients. In addition, it should deliver in-service training on how to better serve these clients.


20. Together with Across Boundaries study ways of ensuring that clients are able to access the services that they require across multiple agencies so that clients don’t ‘fall through the cracks’.



21. Fund a province-wide telephone crisis support line staffed by people trained in crisis intervention or peer support to be available to clients in supportive housing and community mental health and addiction programs, 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.


22. Provide additional funding for a sufficient number of nurses to staff Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams (MCIT) in Toronto, 24 hours a day in each police division.


23. Together with the Toronto Police Service, explore all possible avenues to assess whether MCITs could be Not Official Verdict

24. Fund and create a program to provide appropriate housing support to individuals suffering from noise sensitivity.



25. Using a research based approach, update provincial standards for de-escalation, crisis communication and biasfree police training.


26. Provide funding to research and establish appropriate benchmarks for measuring effectiveness and outcomes of current police response to persons in crisis.


For full document go to: http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/3883244/Andrew-Loku-Verdict-of-Coroners-Jury.pdf

For Full Version of Semaji June 2017 Click Here

Canada’s Black Walk Of Fame

By Ashlie Bienvenu

As there has been a lot of recognition of this historical figure in the past few years, with her inclusion in the Canadian Heritage Minutes and the decision to place her on the new ten dollar bill, I thought it would be appropriate to start our new series, Canadian Black Walk of Fame, with Viola Desmond. This series not only looks at the life and contributions of these important figures in Canada’s Black history, but also looks at the way that they have shaped Canadian society with their contributions and actions. With Ms. Desmond, we will look at her background of fighting for an equal opportunity, for herself and her community, her courageous actions when her basic human rights were violated, her impassioned battle with the courts to fight for her rights, and the rights of her community, and her lasting impact on Canada as a Civil Rights pioneer.

Viola Desmond’s dream, of owning a Black beauty salon, was not easily attained in the 1940’s. Not only was it difficult for Black people to open a business, but very few beauty schools would admit Black students. In fact, Desmond had to travel all the way to Montreal get accepted into beauty school (Annett). She then went on to open her own salon that provided services for Black women; however, she didn’t stop there. Desmond expanded her business over the years, and also created a beauty school that Black women could study in, so they would not have the difficulty of finding a school like she did (CBC News). Desmond’s sister said that this was due to her passion for people; “she inspired them and she inspires us (CBC News).”

Even though Desmond did a lot to help her community before 1946, it wasn’t until November 1946, that Desmond managed to “raise awareness about the reality of Canadian segregation (Black History Canada).” The incident that sparked this awareness began when Desmond had traveled to New Glasgow, looking to expand her business, when she encountered car trouble. Looking to for something to do while waiting for her car to be fixed, Desmond decided on watching a movie, not knowing that this theatre segregated its clients. When Ms. Desmond asked the ticket booth for a seat in the first few rows, due to her nearsightedness, the ticket-seller refused to sell her a ticket for the main floor; she could only get the balcony, even though she was capable of buying the more expensive floor tickets. Angry that she would be denied access to a seat, simply because of the colour of her skin, Desmond walked into the main floor and sat in a chair. This then resulted in the manager telling her to leave because she did not pay for a floor seat, to which Desmond responded she would be willing to pay for the extra cost. The manager refused to sell her a floor seat ticket, due to the fact that she was Black, and called the police, who brutally dragged her out of the theatre, injuring her hip and knee (Heritage Minutes). Desmond was then put into a police cell for the entire night, where she “maintained her composure, sitting bolt upright in her cell all night long, awaiting her trial the following morning (Heritage Minutes).”

Desmond was then charged with tax evasion and given a fine of twenty-six dollars, due to the fact that main floor seats were one penny more than balcony seats. Ironically, even though her “real ‘offence’ was to violate the Roseland Theatre’s implicit segregated seating rule (Heritage Minutes),” race was never mentioned. After paying the fine, Desmond tried twice, unsuccessfully to get the decision appealed at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court (Heritage Minutes). In fact, Desmond went to her grave, in 1965, “without any acknowledgment of racial discrimination in her case (Annett).” This “miscarriage of justice (Heritage Minutes)” was only acknowledged in 2010, in a posthumous pardon presented by Nova Scotia’s Lieutenant-Governor Mayann Francis (Heritage Minutes).

This, then, brings us to Desmond’s memory in current times and her impact on Canadian society. Ms. Desmond is often called the Rosa Parks of Canada, even though Desmond’s standoff occurred nine years before Parks. This is conveniently glossed over in Canadian history, due to the Country’s pattern of “whitewashing history (CBC News).” Be that as it may, Desmond was key in setting a precedent of fighting for civil rights in Canada. Even though the appeals of the trial were not won, “her story and her vigilant activism through the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People were important factors in the eventual abolition of the province’s segregation laws in 1954 (CBC News).” Desmond’s legacy of civil rights advocacy has not gone unnoticed recently. In 2018, she will be the first Canadian female, as well as Black figure, to be featured on the Canadian ten dollar bill. She is also the first Black female to get a Canadian Heritage Minute (Annett).

Therefore, Desmond was one of the first key figures to fight for the Black community’s civil rights. She may not have been successful with her appeals of the trial; however, she managed to bring to light the implicit pattern of racism in Canada. According to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, “Viola Desmond’s own story reminds all of us that big change can start with moment of dignity and bravery (Annett).”



Annett, E. (2016, Dec. 09). Who’s the woman on Canada’s new $10 bill? A Viola Desmond primer. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/women-on-banknotes-viola-desmond/article33264617/

Black History Canada. Viola Desmond. Historica Canada. Retrieved from http://www.blackhistorycanada.ca/profiles.php?themeid=20&id=13

CBC News. (2016, Dec. 08). How civil rights icon Viola Desmond helped change course of Canadian history. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/viola-desmond-bio-1.3886923

Heritage Minutes. (2016). The story of Viola Desmond, an entrepreneur who challenged segregation in Nova Scotia in the 1940s. Historica Canada. Retrieved from https://www.historicacanada.ca/content/heritage-minutes/viola-desmond

Picture: https://heritageday.novascotia.ca/content/2015-honouree


For full version of Semaji March 2017 Click Here

Quebec and Racism—Time to lift her head out of the sand

By Yvonne Sam: Chairman (Rights and Freedoms Committee) Black Community Resource Centre

Ontario has set the pace and Quebec must now join in the race. But before doing so, we must try to come to a common understanding of racism, and the roots of racism in Canada. It is difficult to change what you refuse to acknowledge, and equally difficult to acknowledge what you cannot see. There is pervasive evidence in Quebec that some French leadership, even the most radical, do not believe that the French Settler classes are to be blamed for racism against Blacks, Asiatics, the indigenous peoples, or for the acts of genocide carried out against them. The radicals blame this on the dominance of British colonial capitalism in Canada. They bestowed sainthood on the working classes that they declare to be the true source of revolutionary change and absolve themselves.

In Quebec, they covered up their complicity by declaring themselves the White Niggers of America. But, also in Quebec, there are the elite French Settler classes who define Quebec as a French nation struggling against “English Canada money and the Immigrant vote” to retain its culture, language and rights over all the territories that it considers to belong to the settler nation of Quebec and essential to its pursuit of national independence and Frenchness. In this Quebec, both of these classes of leaders believe that the right to be French trumps the rights of “others” to their liberty and human rights. Hence, the “notwithstanding clause”. Hence, their annoyance when one points out that the quasi constitutional agreements between Quebec and Canada institutionalizes the practices of systemic racism and discrimination in Quebec and Canada.

The evidence is in. Ontario seems to recognize it. What hinders the Quebec government is the Protectorate of the citizens’ from forming an Anti-Racism Directorate. The demand is out. This time, with some degree of moribund urgency, there is a demand for the Quebec government to tackle the gnawing problem of systemic racism and how it adversely affects more than a million people in the province.

The government of Ontario, clearly on the ball, recently announced the establishment of an Anti-Racism Directorate, primarily geared to address racism in all its forms: individual, systemic and cultural. Such a directorate is a direct acknowledgement of the existence of systemic racism, including anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, Islamophobia and racism experienced by other communities, including the Jewish community, all of which can act as barriers to progress and opportunity.

A recent Washington Post Opinion piece, that ran three days after six men were killed at a Quebec City mosque, claimed that the province of Quebec was more racist than the rest of Canada. Members of the legislature sprang into action immediately voting unanimously to denounce the article, once again seemingly more concerned about bruised egos than dealing with the festering issue. (www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/02/01/why-does-progressive-quebec-have-so-many-massacres/?utm_term=.e812d542cd4c). Following the shooting, members of the Coalition for Equality and against Racism said that the shooting was an extreme manifestation of racism and xenophobia.

From time immemorial the province has been struggling with acceptance of the presence of racism, preferring to call it any other name except that which it merited. Over a decade ago, the Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences, later referred to as the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, investigated the issue of reasonable accommodation of minorities in the province, hearing from experts, individuals and organizations on identity, integration and religion, all at a cost to taxpayers of $3.7 million. Now, in recent times, a petition from associations and a collective of individuals has been delivered to the National Assembly, once again demanding a public commission on systemic racism. Premier Couillard has given in to the demands for a provincial inquiry into the treatment of First Nation Women, and, in a further apparent face saving gesture, mandated retired Superior Court Judge Viens to investigate into systemic violence, racism or discrimination against Indigenous men and women throughout the health, social services and justice network. The province is also establishing a working committee with Indigenous groups to find rapid solutions to continuing problems, independent of the work of the Commission. Although, one notes that the Commission would not be disclosing its findings until sometime after the 2018 election. We note that Mr. Martineau, of the Journal Montréal (http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2017/03/29/le-paradis-des-racistes), does not like Mr. Coullard’s decision, and basically accuses him of letting down the “nation” class. He writes: “Philippe Couillard could have said: “Let’s see, systemic racism, you do not think about it! It’s insulting to Quebec society.” But no. It will leave it to the anti-racist organizations to tell us whether we are racist or not. If, in addition, it can discredit its political opponents and portray them as xenophobes, so much the better. This is called instrumentalizing a cause for its own benefit. Shame on you, Prime Minister.”

Ontario is, in no way, anymore racist than Quebec, the striking difference being, however, that the issues were important enough to merit corrective mechanisms being put in place. On the other hand, in a neighboring province called Quebec, which has a pervasive and long standing problem with racism, it has become blatantly apparent to anyone with rudimentary observational skills that Quebec needs to accept the concept of racism before setting up a bureaucracy to battle racism; and, as in Ontario, not only does similar corrective steps need to be taken, but they need to be taken expeditiously.

Racism in Quebec has been an ongoing problem, albeit shrouded in taboo-like garments. No longer can Premier Couillard continue to bury his head in the sand, for ignoring the reality of racism will only make the situation worse. The inaction must stop and action must be taken.

Yvonne Sam


For full version of Semaji March 2017 Click Here

Report from the Secretariat of the Black Community Forum

“The Secretariat of the Black Community urges the City to return to the earlier, and more holistic and integrative, approach that characterized its relationship with Black Communities over three City Administrations: The Dore, Borque, and Tremblay Administrations.”

Dr. Clarence S. Bayne, President of BCRC and Chair of the Secretariat of the Black Community Forum.


The Black Community Forum is a network of 12 Organizations that have agreed to meet as a Conference of organizations to set and approve priorities that create the framework for their operations and guidelines for activities which serve to maximize the objective and subjective wellbeing of the Black Community. Consistent with Recommendation of the Forum Report, the conference has created an administrative structure, the Secretariat, to conduct its administration and implement its recommendations and promote the purposes of the Forum. The secretariat is located at office space in the BCRC, 6767 Cote des Neiges. The Secretariat speaks for the FORUM under the authority given to it by recommendations to of the Forum Report (Manual). It is directly accountable to the Conference of Member Organizations.

Members of the Conference of organization: The Black Community Forum
1. The Black Community Resource Center(BCRC)
2. Quebec Board of Black Educators (QBBE)
3. The Black Theatre Workshop of Montreal (BTW)
4. The Union United Church
5. Universal Negro Improvement Association of Montreal (UNIA)
6. The Black History Month Round Table (BHMRT)
7. La Ligue des Noir (Black Coalition)
8. The Institute for Community Entrepreneurship (ICED, Concordia)
9. The Black Writers Guilds (Kola)
10. Black Awards Scholarship Fund (BASF)
11. The Rights and Freedom Ad Hoc Community Committee
12. The BSC Black Community Archives

These 12 agencies, by their collaboration and partnership within the group and with a wide range of organizations and memberships outside the group, create a network of services that extend beyond the Black communities. This covers the arts, culture, education, health, employment and employability; youth education and development; library and archive services; immigrant settlement, diversity and anti-racism and discriminatory practices; social and economic development; and governance, human rights and freedoms.

The Black Community Forum is not a Chartered Federation. But its members work together cooperatively and in a manner consistent with Recommendations 7.2.1 to 7.2.10 of the Forum Report. In particular Recommendation 7.2.1 states:
“We recommend that the forum created by this meeting become an ongoing mechanism, which will facilitate the process of harmonizing the various agendas into a unifying programme of activities for the community.”

The Forum, consistent with Recommendation 7.2.5, functions through the legal status of the member organizations and is bound together in a spirit of “collaborative unity and existential responsibility.” Collaborative unity means that the organizations concerned agree to work together through their various specializations to represent, and achieve, the greatest good for the Black community and society, and that they intend to do this through a system of inter-organization communication and cooperation. Existential responsibility means that each organization is responsible to the community through their respective charters, mission and mandates to provide services to the community in the most effective and efficient way possible. For this reason, membership in the Forum requires that an organization provides services to the Black Community; and that they are registered or chartered in Quebec as not-for-profit social enterprises, cultural and community based agencies in good standing; and that they engage in community and social economy activities that address the priorities of the community. This legal framework of Canadian laws governing not-for-profit organizations assures the community at large that they are accountable. These organization must report annually to the Canadian government, which monitors their activities, in the interest of the citizens of all the communities that they are given a charter to serve. It is the responsibility of the Secretariat to monitor the published public reports of their members to ensure that they are in good standing.

In addition, each member organization agrees to accept and respect the following purposes and to respect and support the recommendations of the Forum in a manner consistent with their respective charters, and the principle of “Existential responsibility”.

Purposes of Forum
1. To develop a process which will identify a long-term development plan for the Black Community.
2. To ensure that this planning process is cooperative and collaborative.
3. To identify and promote a structure to support the planning process.
4. To encourage and promote the development of strategic partnerships and networks that benefit the Black community, and the larger society.
5. To provide a network of communication, the transfer of knowledge and information, and to facilitate the general expansion of social capital.

In order to fulfill the purpose of the Forum, the Secretariat sent a communique to the Borough of NDG/CDN; the City of Montreal; the office of the Premier of Quebec and the Prime Minister of Canada; the Minister of Justice; the Minister of Heritage; and the Quebec Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion. This was to seek assurance that the Black community’s presence in Montreal and Quebec would be more fully recognized and we requested a meeting to discuss the concerns expressed at the Forum of June 16, 2017. To date, we have received acknowledgements of receipt of our communique from all of the parties. But, we must openly recognize the respect and seriousness given to the communique by the Ministry of Justice, the Mayor of NDG-CDN (Russell Copeman) and the City of Montreal (Mayor Denis Coderre). We still await a response to our request to meet from the other agencies.

Meetings with the City and the Mayor of NDG-CDN
In response to our Communique, the Mayor of CDN-NDG (Mr. Russell Copeman) invited the Secretariat to organize the Cote des Neiges Black Community organizations, in order to meet to discuss the issue of the failure of the City to officially invite the Black Community to participate in the Montreal 375th; and to discuss relationships with the City. The organizations that attended were BCRC, QBBE, La Ligue des Noirs, and, to speak on the 375th problem, the Black History Month Round Table. This meeting introduced the Secretariat to the Mayor of NDG-CDN and enabled the Secretariat to engage the Mayor’s attention and support on larger issues affecting the relationship between the City and the Black community across all arrondisements. The meeting opened the channels to the City of Montreal for formal communications with the City, represented by Mr Dimitrios (Jim) Beis, Maire de l’arrondisement de Pierrefonds-Roxboro, Membre du comité exécutif Responsible de l’approvisionnement, des sports et loisirs ainsi que des communautés d’origines diverses. The Forum, represented by the Chair of the Secretariat, presented to the City a number of issues and suggested ways that the City can better serve the Black community of Montreal. The Secretariat sought a more comprehensive and long-term approach, as opposed to the current fragmented short-term approach. The secretariat presented to the City the option of returning to, and revitalizing, the systematic planning processes and agreements that existed under the Doré, Borque, and Tremblay administrations, as opposed to the presented defused system of relationships. In particular, the Forum has asked that the City return to, and review, the formal agreements reached under the Tremblay Administration, in 2004, between the City and the Black community. According to that agreement, the City, in a letter from the Mayor’s Office November 2014, agreed to undertake a plan of action that would address the following priorities: strengthening of families; addressing the problem of violence among youth; supporting programs in the community relating to the employment and employability of Black youth; improved access to better housing; promoting the socio-professional and economic integration of youth; facilitating access to the City infrastructures; fuller integration of the Black communities into the City and representation at the advisory and decision making bodies of the City; and full representation of the contributions of Black people to the history and development of Montreal. To this we added new concerns expressed at the June 16, 2017, Conference of Black Organizations (Forum), in Montreal: improved anti-racism strategies; improvements in the justice system; the strengthening of Black organizations; and sustaining the vitality of the English speaking Black community, whose growth seems to be stagnating. In particular, we have asked the city to return to the advocacy role it played during that period, on behalf of the Black community within the Boroughs and other levels of Government.

City’s Response
The response of the City has been very positive. There is a firm commitment from the City to discuss problems with the Secretariat that need to be addressed urgently, and marshalling the resources of the City and the community to help resolve these problems. The City has indicated that it has already made adjustments to its evaluation criteria for supporting community projects. While the City emphasis on the support of organization activities remain focused on sport and recreation, it recognises the need to support events and organizational activities that are social or economic in orientation. The City has agreed that it will monitor more closely the funding procedures to ensure that when, under the existing system criteria, projects do not fully meet the criteria for sport and recreational activities, that the agencies advise the organization on ways to modify the projects that they become valid for funding. It is our understanding that the City has advised civil servants in the City and Boroughs that they should actively support organizations in the planning, development, and formatting of their grant applications in order to improve their success ratios. The Secretariat is, in fact, currently engaged with the City to ensure that these new approaches are taking place; and that Black community organizations are being made aware of opportunities for support and funding at the City and in the Boroughs.

The City is, at present, responding to a number of requests made by the Secretariat to assist and support projects in the Black Community: the Pan-black Identity defining events project assigned to the Black History Mount Round Table for implementation by an alliance of Black Community Organizations; the development of a Black Community creative and cultural tourism sector involving several Black heritage sites and Black English Speaking Events; and the development of a systematic Black Toponomy strategy in collaboration with the Black Forum (Secretariat); assistance with and support for a social and economic summit to deal with the sustaining of the vitality of the English speaking Black communities; and support for the new initiatives launched by the BCRC, in collaboration with the QBBE and the BSC, to stop the brain drain of Quebec educated English speaking and bilingual Black youth from the community. This project represents the second stage of a partnership between the BCRC and the Montreal CEDEC. The first stage was a survey conducted by the CEDEC to determine the demand for the project. The BCRC has undertaken the second stage which is the implementation of a program to promote and improve the employment, here in Quebec, of Black youth graduating from Quebec colleges, technical institutions, and Universities.
For the full version of Semaji March 2017 Click Here

We’re Hiring

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.


  • Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, Psychology or DEC in Social Service, CRLT, Special Care Counselling or related field.
  • Previous experience working with children and families.
  • Excellent oral and verbal communication skills/exceptional client service skills
  • Ability to problem solve and multi-task.
  • Detail-oriented; strong organizational skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to work under pressure while juggling several competing priorities.
  • Ability to work and problem solve independently and as a team member.
  • Excellent computer skills (Microsoft Office: Power Point, Excel, and Word).
  • Bilingualism (fluency in French and English) is an asset.
  • Crisis intervention skills an asset.
  • Cultural Sensitivity.
  • Experience (or related experience) with “at risk” youth an asset.

All interested candidates ready for this challenge are requested to send their resume to the attention of Ms. Raeanne Francis, Administrative Coordinator. Applications will be accepted until January 30th, 2017. Please note that we will only contact those candidates retained for an interview. Selected applicants must complete a background check and must provide attestation to academic study. We thank you for your interest in working for BCRC.

Job Type: Part-time

Job Location:

  • Montréal, QC

Required education:

  • Diploma/Certificate