Racial profiling: Black Civil rights also matter!

By Yvonne Sam

 

As a preliminary step before delving into this somewhat charged topic, it is useful to define racial profiling, as the Canadian populace, in general, use the term to mean different things. For this editorial, I am applying the term ‘racial profiling’ to refer to the law enforcement practice of taking the race of a potential suspect into account when deciding whether to initiate investigation of that suspect. To the more erudite, racial profiling can also be termed “racism in practice”, regardless of whether it is viewed using Heidegger’s phenomenological lens, or any other modes of optic aid. For such an overloaded term as racial profiling it is somewhat understandable that several definitions are attributable to it. To be engaged in racial profiling, race does not need to be considered to the exclusion of other factors. A profile will often contain a variety of factors; but, if one of them is race, then we have a racial profile.

As stated in its mission, and dictated by its organizational values, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, and the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) stipulate that the services provided by the entire staff in all interactions with citizens be free from racial profiling. The SPVM Executive has also made a firm commitment to promote and maintain a strong stance against any type of illicit racial profiling. It is apparent that such a commitment exists only on paper and is not effective in reality. While racial profiling may be defined as unjustified actions by authority figures toward members of a particular race, ethnic group or religion, the actions of the Montreal Police in the 2008 killing of teen, Freddy Villanueva, have served to indelibly sear the issue into the public consciousness at large. Bear in mind that racial profiling is not limited exclusively to law enforcement, but also education and youth-protection systems, where it is seen that youths are unfairly labelled with the consequent risk of being channeled into the criminal justice system.

On November 30, 2016, in a decision on a case filed five years ago by Marcus Gordon, a Black urban entertainment professional, the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission has ruled that he was indeed a victim of racial profiling by the Montreal Police and awarded a meagre sum of $2,000 in moral damages. Do Black civil rights matter especially when racial profiling is acknowledged? Despite the straightforward facts, the Commission took almost four years to complete the investigation of the complaint. To further compound matters, although the investigation was completed in January 2015, the Commission’s Complaints Committee only decided the case in October 2016. Despite the Centre for Research Action on Race Relations enquiry, the Commission declined to explain the 1.5 year wait. www.youtube.com/watch?v=knV-_5AEst8).

Currently, there are no racialized managers or members at the Commission. An Indigenous Commissioner has recently resigned, leaving the Commission without any racialized or English-speaking member who, among other functions, makes decisions on cases through the Complaints Committee. According to Fo Noemi, Director of CRARR, this decision sets an extremely disturbing precedent. It fails to send a dissuasive message to police officers and departments that practice racial profiling. Also, on the converse, it can be seen as a very persuasive message to victims of racial profiling that it is not worth filing complaints. A request for a review of the decision has been made by CRARR to the Commission’s interim President, Camil Picard.

With no surprise elements, the most common recurring and familiar instances of racial profiling in Montreal is what have come to be known as “Driving While Black” or (D.W.B). Racial profiling of this kind involves police stopping motorists under the guise that they have committed a traffic violation—usually a minor one. This is where things take a different turn and shape. Although the traffic violation may be the primary reason for the motorist being stopped, the actual underlying reason might include the race of the suspect. Police often assume that African-American drivers are more likely than their white driver counterparts to be transporting illegal drugs. This assumption has been the catalyst for a large number of roadside stops.

A few years ago, an individual by the name of Joel Debellefeuille was out for a drive with his wife and stepdaughter. For the purposes of this story it is important to note that the individual is Black and that the car he was driving was a BMW sport-utility vehicle. Joel was pulled over by two Longueil (Quebec) police constables, because, after running his plates, they reasoned that his name could not possibly match his skin colour. What is of interest in this horrible situation is how misinformed and uneducated these white officers were. For instance, they must have conveniently forgotten the processes of colonization that their ancestors inflicted on people of colour, which included, for enslaved Africans, the stripping of their African names and their replacement with the names of white European slave owners. How Debellefeuille presented himself was also not the deciding factor in his subjection to racial profiling. Rather, the unifying factor is that these Black people, who would all appear to be of middle or upper class backgrounds, dared to desire nice things (“high end” expensive purchases—cars etc.) for themselves. Debellefeuille refused to pay the tickets and persevered for two years in several courts in order to finally win his case.

A similarly mundane, egregious and potentially lethal practice of racial profiling is: “Walking While Black.” This afflicts many in Montreal, as it surely does in other cities in Canada and elsewhere.

This next story is about Jimmy, a recent immigrant to Canada, and his first unhappy encounter with the Montreal Police. In May 2015, Trevaughn, a West Indian national, was walking along St. Catherine Street in the heart of downtown Montreal. He had recently emigrated from the West Indies to be reunited with his Canadian wife. Back on St. Catherine Street, he crossed an intersection beside two white pedestrians. Singled out by a white, French-speaking police officer, Trevaughn was asked to produce his identification without an explanation of his “offense.” However, this attention was not given to the other two white pedestrians with whom Jimmy had crossed the intersection, as they were not stopped and interrogated. A Spanish-speaker and recent immigrant to Quebec, he did not yet speak any French. Instead, the policeman insisted that he would only speak French and demanded that Trevaughn do the same. It is hard to comprehend the level of arrogance, malevolence, and insensitivity that motivated such a callous response on the part of a civil servant whose role it is to “serve and protect.” In conclusion, however, given the frequency of unwarranted police surveillance against Blacks, any type of racial profiling contains the seeds of potentially lethal violence. Traffic stops are a good indicator that the police must stop and evaluate their way forward. Acts such as driving, walking, shopping or banking while Black are not just mundane, they are a constant part of our daily realities in this part of the diaspora, and within the Canadian mosaic. As such, the potential for racist abuse is far too pervasive and needs to be immediately addressed.

 

Morton Weinfeld, a professor of sociology at McGill University, who holds the chair in Canadian Ethnic Studies, said that while action on racial profiling is needed, it is only the tip of the iceberg. “An even more profound problem is that of systemic racism in all dimensions of our society,” said Weinfeld, who pointed to immigration problems, cultural differences and poverty as examples of obstacles facing minority groups. “If racial profiling was eliminated tomorrow, we would still have profound racial inequalities,” he said. “And tackling those problems will be much more difficult and much more costly than simply dealing with racial profiling.” For my part, resolution lies in immediate remedial orientation in the burden of blackness for minority populations in western nations where the legacy of slavery and anti-black racism is alive and well in discriminatory practices like racist policing. There is still a great amount of denial on the part of the stakeholders where racial profiling is concerned; even after so much pain, yet so little gain. Nevertheless, Blacks must not give up the fight, but continue towards the light as victory is certainly not out of sight.

 

Aleuta—The struggle continues.

 

For Full Version of Semaji December 2016 Click Here

 

THE BLACK COMMUNITY FORUM SECRETARIAT: Some Clarifications on the Road Forward

By Dr. Clarence Bayne

Semaji has published a significant amount of information about the Black Community Forum in previous issues. However, several questions, from key organizations in our community, seem to justify the need for this extended word to the general community. The first question relates to the rationale for such an agency, and the second relates to the authority of this agency.

The rationale for this agency can be succinctly summarized by Leith Hamilton at Val Morin 1992: “We must look at specific things that strengthen and reinforce community structures. The ultimate goal is to get more resources into the community. We must determine how we can help organizations use the funding effectively once they do receive their resources.” This translates into the present set of updated purposes that need to be kept alive in our minds and at the forefront of our actions.

The purpose of the 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 for communication, the transfer of knowledge and information, and to facilitate the general expansion of social capital

The second question is really related to governance, implementation, control or autonomy of individual organizations relative to the Forum. Simple. The Secretariat of the Forum acts on the recommendations and decisions of the Forum, which are the collective will of the organizations at the general meeting or forum. It is important to note that the Forum is not an organization with a charter. It derives its power and authority from the voluntary will and commitments of chartered organizations in good standing and formal agreement between organizations and between individuals to carry out certain missions and mandates in an efficient and most effective way possible. The autonomy of the organization is sovereign or subject only to the laws governing its mission and mandate; as well as its legislated agreements with partners and collaborators. The Secretariat acts for the Forum, and is the voice of the Forum, in this restricted way. Under Section 6.5.1 subsections 6.5.1.1 to 6.5.1.13 the updated Val Morin Forum sets the frame work for much of the authority of the Secretariat.

 

The Secretariat of the Black Community Forum

The Secretariat of the Black Community Forum is the Administrative arm of the Black Community Forum, which was created by the will of 45 Organizations at Val Morin in 1992, and re-affirmed at the Second Black Community Forum called by the BCRC Black Community Leadership Forum, June 16, 2016, attended by 50 registered delegates representing 20 organizations. The earlier functions carried out by the BCRC Black Community Leadership Forum will now be carried out by the Secretariat of the Black Community Forum. This was affirmed at the opening Plenary Session of the June 16, 2016, Black Community Forum, held at 6767 Cote des Neiges, Montreal. The Secretariat service of the BCRC, and staffed by the BCRC, works, as part of its mission, to strengthen community organizations. The management and protocols of the Secretariat are independent of those of the BCRC and vice versa. The BCRC simply provides the administrative and information services as required by the protocols, principles and recommendations approved at the Black Community Forum general meeting.

For Example, Recommendation 6.5.1.9 of the Forum plenary requires that the Forum/Secretariat puts in place a mechanism which would keep track of the performance of community organizations or “community events” to determine their strengths, weakness and sustainability, their effectiveness, and social contributions. The objective is to help organizations strengthen their structures and vitality by improving transparency in reporting, mission and mandate accountabilities, and by facilitating the provision of appropriate assistance to Black community organizations in need; especially those that are committed to the principles and purposes of the Forum and have a track record of good service in the community.

The function of the Secretariat

1.Implementation of the Recommendations and Policy Positions of the Forum and further developing the “Procedures and processes for the ongoing review and fuller updating of the recommendations of the Val Morin Forum to reflect the Black community priorities for Quebec today and the next generation.”

2.Overseeing the implementation of the recommendations and policy positions of the Forum, which are guidelines and mandates for the participating community organizations to work on in a manner that follows best practices and good management, and is consistent with their mission and mandates.

3.An important function of the Forum (its Secretariat) “is to provide a meeting place (s) for the community to identify policy issues, to review options, to attempt to develop a consensus whenever possible, and to effectively communicate this consensus”.

 

Source: Community Forum Plenary, Val Morin 3-5 1992

 

Responsibility for Protection of Community Rights and security

6.5.1.10 It is recommended that there be community input into “community events”

6.5.1.11. It is recommended that a special mechanism be developed [as part of the] Economic Development agenda to reduce potential exploitation of the community by [fraudulent and other acts], businesses and individuals

There should be a structure to identify those businesses and individuals in good standing.

The Administrators of the secretariat are:

1.Chair of the secretariat: Dr Clarence S. Bayne, President of the Black Community Resource Center.

2.Mr. Sean Seales (Administrator)

3.Ms Raeanne Francis (Administrator)

4.Member at large (to be determined)

 

Special Committees of the Black Community Forum

A) Rights and Freedoms Committee Chaired by Yvonne Sam

Participants: BCRC Rights and Freedom Unit; Fo Niemi (CRARR); La Ligue des Noirs; CDN-BCA; Michael Farkas (Black History Month Round Table, and Youth in Motion); Mervyn Weekes (UNIA)

Legal advisors: Maitres Dave La Plommeray, Rolf Francois.

B) The Economic and Community Development Committee

This Committee is responsible for rethinking and restructuring of economic development and employability strategic plan for the Black Community.

The Institutional members of the Committee are:

i. Institute for Community Entrepreneurship and Development (ICED), John Molson School of Business, Concordia University. And the ICED Journal. Editors and Associate Editors: Professors C. Bayne and Raaffat Saade; Dr Rezai Goldnaz. ICED responsible for planning a Black Community Economic Summit for late 2017, or 2018.

ii. The Black Studies Center

iii. The Black Community Resource Center

iv. The Quebec Board of Black Educators

v. The CEDEC Montreal

vi. TBA other institutions pending responses

Background of research and practice: Building on the past collaborations with ICED Research team, JMSB, Concordia; EIDMC, JMSB, Concordia and Black Studies Center research and workshops on Black business start-ups and incubation; BCRC-CEDEC collaboration and research on employment and retention of Black graduates in Montreal and Quebec; The McAndrew Study, University of Montreal; Demographic studies of Black Communities of Montreal, McGill University Consortium for Ethnicity and Strategic Social Planning; Black Task Forces of Montreal Tremblay Administration) and the Charest Provincial Liberals; Cote des Neiges Black Community Association and the Yes Montreal community business initiatives; and the Black Entrepreneurship funding initiatives of the Provincial Government (Filation).

C) The Black Community Forum on Culture and the Arts Committee: Pan-Black Identities Defining Manifesto

 Responsibility for creation of a special website for the promotion of Pan Black Identity Events, and its administration, was delegated to the Black History Month Table and approved at the June 16, 2016 Forum. This Committee will oversee admissions to and removal from the lists, and for the review of the Website in a manner consistent with the Criteria approved by the Black Forum. The chair of the Committee is Michael Farkas (President of BHM Round Table). Other members are Clarence Bayne (BSC Archives); Quincy Amorer (BTW); a representative for Festivals (TBA); and Representative for Literature ( Koyla, Black Writers Guild).

D) The Committee for Toponomy: based on Recommendation 6.5.1.7

Forum/Secretariat 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, order and sustainable development merit recognition in a manner consistent with best Canadian practices in toponymy (A Proposal of BCRC Community Leadership Forum and BSC Joint Archives Committee).

It is proposed that the committee consist of experts and representatives named from organizations whose mission and mandates involve them in research in social history and biographical studies. The Secretariat shall seek expert advice on appoint to the committee two or more experts to be determined by their training and proven skills in this and associated studies.

 

C) The Health Care Committee

Member Groups: BCRC Health Unit and Blood Drive (Representatives TBA); and The Black Mental Health Connection (Representatives TBA).

 

For Full Version of Semaji December 2016 Click Here

 

 

Strategies that can be used to address systemic racism in Quebec

By Rolf H. François

The following is pursuant to our meeting at BCRC on May 5th, 2016 regarding the Meeting of the Ad Hoc Community Meeting on Rights and Freedoms.

During our meeting, I suggested that we identify the reasons why the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse failed to protect Black citizens of Quebec from discrimination. The fact that our struggles are misunderstood or ignored by the judicial system is because, in my humble opinion, the majority of the current judges in Quebec are unaware of our truths. As such, more diversity on the bench should be requested. It’s a shame that our first Black Attorney goes back to 1857, but we still have not had a Black Justice on the Supreme Court bench or on the Court of Appeals for this province. The Courts cannot understand what they do not know; therefore, diversity is part of the solution. Another solution is eliminating discretion. The Supreme Court of the United States, in 1964, stated that when there’s discretion there is no protection. This discretion could be eliminated by legislative action at the National Assembly.

The strategies that were suggested during our meeting, on May 5th, were the following (my suggestions are not absolute and were humbly and respectfully submitted. I do not expect everyone to agree with them):

SUGGESTED STRATEGIES

  1. Social Media:

Social media should be greatly utilized because it allows us to reach an incredible amount of individuals across the world. When speaking of social media, we mean Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, blogs, etc. For example, in 2013, when the owner of the Buonanotte Restaurant, on St. Laurent Boulevard, was required by the Office quebecois de la langue francaise (OQLF) to change all the menus at his restaurant, because of the fact that the words “pasta”, “antipasti” and “calamari” were not in French, he went public to generate a public outcry. This sad part of our history is commonly called Pastagate. With the exception of the said three words the rest of the menu could be read in French. We can imagine the cost of changing the menus for these three words. Pastagate received international attention in the media, which publicly embarrassed the Provincial Government. Quebec does not want to attract this kind of negative public attention because of the fact that American companies are principal investors in the province. The entire incident was initially fueled by a group called putbacktheflag, which shared the story over 20,000 links on its Facebook and Twitter pages within the first day of the initial story breaking.

  1. Meet with Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Couillard:

If we agree with the premise that the source of the systemic failure of the Quebec Human Rights Commission, to defend the rights and freedom of Black Quebecers against racism and discrimination, lies partly in the lack of diversity on the judicial bench, then meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau and the Premier Couillard should seriously be contemplated. Indeed, according to section 96 of the Constitution Act of 1867, the Governor General shall appoint the Justices of the Superior, District, and County Courts in each Province, except those of the Courts of Probate in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. As we already know, the Governor General makes these appointments after receiving the Prime Minister’s advice.

The justice system of Quebec is currently comprised of only three Black Justices, Justice Daniel Dortelus, Justice Magalie Lewis and Justice Guylene Beauge. Justice Beauge is the first and only judge sitting on a Superior bench of the province. The chances of the people of our community appearing before these three judges are close to none. After a few years of patience, Justice Juanita Westmoreland-Traore introduced, in Quebec law, the concept of racial profiling, which had already been introduced in Ontario years before. If not for our first Black Justice in Quebec, racial profiling would never have been part of Quebec law. This is so because she understands our truth. Indeed, just like women rights in Canada evolved with the assistance of women Justices, we cannot expect our rights and freedoms to be protected and evolve with people other than ourselves on the judicial bench. Premier Couillard advises the Lieutenant-Governor regarding Provincial nominations in the judicial system. Consequently, we would have to meet with the current Prime Minister and Premier to ensure that our people are represented on this Province’s justice system to guarantee multiculturalism and diversity. Diversity will guarantee that our rights and freedom are properly protected.

  1. Speak with our people in the United States of America:

We should inform our people in the United States as much as we can (via emails, newspapers, social media, etc.) regarding what we are currently experiencing and what our history in Quebec is. I wish to repeat that the Provincial Government does not want to attract this kind of negative public attention because of the fact that American companies are principal investors in this province. Our people in the USA will be sensitive to our experience, and might even help or participate in our struggle once they are made aware of it. The boycott of Quebec’s product of industries could very well be from the United States.

  1. Use newspapers/television such as the Gazette, CTV, the Toronto Star, etc.:

We should secure contacts within great mediums, such as the Gazette, CTV, CBC, CJAD, and others, to ensure that our messages are effectively communicated and reach the entire population. For example, Quebec’s French mediums, such as TVA or Journal de Montreal, publish every event that concerns and affects the French language. They effectively make sure that the message passes across the province. Respectfully submitted, papers, such as the Community Contact, are just that… papers for the community; this means it stays within the community. However, greater mediums will provide us with a greater power, due to the fact that our message will reach a greater audience. We should also make sure that the contacts at these mediums make sure to place our concerns as a priority, so that our messages are published in the first pages of the said newspapers, or in the first minutes of the news broadcasting.

  1. Keep a steady pressure:

The pressure on the Prime Minister and the Premier should be constant and steady once our demands are communicated to them, so that they commit themselves. A commitment from the head of government, positive or negative, will form part of our message to be published by the mediums mentioned at point # 4. If the commitment is negative, the population is entitled to know, and the Prime Minister or the Premier should face our discontent. We only get a commitment from them by applying a steady and constant pressure. For example, the UNIA has requested that the City of Montreal honors Mr. Marcus Garvey with a boulevard. Had the UNIA not applied a constant and steady pressure, the said file would’ve been forgotten, and the Borough Mayor, Copeman, would not have made a commitment that the UNIA finds absolutely inadequate. The steady pressure is to ensure that we get a positive or negative answer from the authorities.

  1. Vote and clearly express our demands:

When unsatisfied with a particular policy or response from the proper authorities, one must clearly and openly display their dissatisfaction. We are currently dissatisfied with the ways that we are being treated, but individuals outside our community are unaware. For example, racial profiling is a huge problem in our community, but the authorities are unresponsive because the problem does not affect them directly. When a situation affects the French language, the French people raise their concern immediately: it is raised in the media immediately, the situation is addressed immediately by the authorities, and, if the problem persists, the authorities will face judgment when election comes (e.g. Premier Jean Charest lost his election when the population disagreed with his new policy of raising university tuitions – the students were very vocal when they decided to start a student strike). Racial profiling affects us, and we should clearly, and openly, display our discontent in the media/social media, request corrective measures from the proper authorities (federally and provincially), and, if we are still ignored then, we shall mobilize our community before, and during, election time to make sure that the candidate who supports our demands for change is elected. We need to come out and demand change.

  1. Unity:

The need to have all Black Associations unite is extremely important. Indeed, when a particular association raises a problematic that affects and concerns our community, the said problem concerns us all without exception. Thus, we should all make a common front every time one of us (i.e. Black association) steps forward in the media/newspaper/radio to demand justice. When we will communicate to the Prime Minister and Premier, we shall all sign the letter that will be sent to them. The need for unity does not mean that we should necessarily form one association by joining all the current Black associations. Every association has its own specificity and uniqueness that it adds to our struggle in this province. For example, if CRARR makes an official statement on CTV after filing a motion in Court to bring down racial profiling, BCRC, UNIA, La ligue des noirs, etc. should all join CRARR to demonstrate our unity and will to fight against racial profiling. This requires that the said associations effectively communicate between themselves. The common front demonstrates our seriousness. Together we are stronger! Further, the concept of unity must also apply to the population itself. We should find a solution to unite us all. Language as a barrier should not exist, and we should find ways to conquer those said barriers. In other words, the Haitians on the east end of the Island should be aware that we are defending and protecting their rights as well. Unfortunately, a huge part of them are not aware of the existence of some Black associations. We are not here solely for the English speaking Blacks… Our goal is to protect our people regardless of their origins, and this protection should extend to other races as well.

  1. Speak out, not only for our community, but for injustice:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat for justice everywhere”. We should not only speak out when injustice affects our community. We must demonstrate that we are not only fighting for our people, but for anyone who is a victim of injustice. For example, when a particular injustice affects Quebec’s Jewish citizens, Muslim citizens, Aboriginal citizens, etc. the Black associations should all add their voices to the fight. We should never let the B’Nai Brith fight alone for instance. We should stand by their sides because injustice affects us all, and we should strongly demonstrate our solidarity. For when injustice affects our community, the ones we stood by will stand by us when we are afflicted. If someone is not convinced, and believes that we should only fight for our own issues, let’s not forget that amongst the Jewish people we will find many of our own people. Our people can also be found among Muslims and First Nation Members as well. In my humble opinion, when we fight against injustice there should be no specificity. If we let one injustice pass, another will surely, and eventually, come for us. We are all united against injustice. The prominent Protestant pastor, Mr. Martin Niemoller (1892-1984), once wrote a poem that clearly expresses my opinion: “First They Came for The Socialists…” –

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me – and there was no none left to speak for me.

It is not right that the citizens of Quebec continuously pay (by paying taxes) to protect the French people’s rights, which they think is absolutely normal, but our monies are not properly used to protect our rights. Finally, just like at my point #7, we are stronger together than we are apart!

  1. Be visible so that our community knows where to find us:

Our community is blessed with many associations that were created to defend and protect our people’s rights. Unfortunately, some of our people are unaware of the existence and uniqueness of some of these associations. Consequently, I humbly and respectfully suggest that we should advertise and make the said associations more visible. I, for instance, know the purpose of CRARR, and, when a young Black man came to me regarding being the victim of racial profiling, I immediately provided him with Mr. Niemi’s contact information. He did not know that CRARR existed. Unlike the associations in the United States, we are not sufficiently visible. I suggest that we use social media/media/newspapers/community newspapers to advertise every association, and that we advertise often, so that our people know who we are and where to find us.

  1. We shall always speak for ourselves and we will not allow others to speak for us:

This last point is very important and speaks for itself. One of the problems that we constantly encounter is the fact that other people state what should apply for us, or what is acceptable or not. For example, Quebec’s definition of racism is one that is not acceptable in the United States. This is so because Quebec’s definition is very basic and does not cover the subtlety of today’s racism. We know what racism is and we should inform and educate other people about it. As another example, the UNIA has requested that the City of Montreal names a boulevard in honor of Mr. Marcus Garvey. The response of the Toponymy Commission was that Mr. Garvey was too controversial, as he was incarcerated for fraud and he entered into an agreement with some segregationist to deport African-Americans back to Africa. Before reaching such decision, the Commission was made aware of Mr. Garvey’s achievements and that he was honored around the world. Despite the information provided, the Commission rendered a negative decision. Mayor Copeman then stated that we should find a more suitable candidate. The UNIA immediately responded that we had submitted a suitable candidate, and that it was not for other people to tell us who was suitable or not amongst our own people. We don’t want other people to speak for us. We shall always speak for ourselves. If need be, we might consult amongst ourselves, unite, and then come out strong.

 

For Full Version of Semaji December 2016 Click Here

Standing on Their Shoulders Leaves a Lasting Impression

Standing on Their Shoulders Leaves a Lasting Impression

By Ashlie Bienvenu

On Thursday, September 28th, the BCRC was asked to present the Standing on Their Shoulders videos (a past BCRC community project), to students at McGill, for community involvement day. The videos were very well received by the McGill students who signed up for the viewing. There was a discussion period, which followed the videos, in which students got to interact with two youth who were involved in creating the videos. We were also joined by a reporter from CBC.

 

The fact that Standing on Their Shoulders is still an important and talked about project, almost a year after its completion, shows how impactful this project was on the community. We are very proud of the hard work that our youth put into these videos and how they have positively impacted the community. Great work, Standing on Their Shoulders Team!

sots-2 sots

 

For Full Version of Semaji September 2016 Click Here

Position on Amending the Bill for the Education Act

BCRC STATEMENT OF POSITION ON THE BILL TO AMEND THE BILL AMENDING THE EDUCATION ACT

By the President of BCRC

This was presented to the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) and submitted to the Montreal Hearings on Bill 105.

 

Background and Analysis

Language has become a very controversial topic in Quebec and Canada. In fact, the backlash of this controversy has directly impacted the Black English-speaking community, especially in Quebec. It forces us to pose the question, has Canada fooled itself in thinking that it could become a harmonious nation based on all God’s children, regardless of diversities? Quite simply, the English-speaking peoples of Quebec do not have the same rights as the French-speaking peoples of Quebec; nor do their institutions enjoy the same support as the French-speaking peoples living elsewhere in Canada. In a sense, it can be argued that the English-speaking peoples of Quebec were betrayed by their earlier leaders and abandoned to the fears of the French nationalism of Quebec. It all started with Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s not-withstanding clause, which the Premier of Quebec, Henri Bourassa, took full advantage of, in his quest for French nationalism. The language police sprang directly from this fear of the demise of the French language. However, in recent times they have become quite immature, and, perhaps, have reached the end of their usefulness to the changing Quebec landscape. Bill 86, for Blacks, no matter which boat our ancestors first stepped off of, is nasty business. And the fact that it is happening from within the camp of the liberals, who are supporters of Federalism, indicates the underlying misconceptions with which both sides are trying to build a harmonious diverse society.

We are quick to accuse and vilify other countries and areas for denying their citizens their basic rights; however, it never seems to register that we are living those same injustices here, right in our backyard. The Quebec Government restricts our choices of educational institutions and dictates the language that we do business in, even though, according to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we live in a bilingual multicultural National entity. They also dictate how we present, or express, ourselves in terms of the literary symbols we use to brand ourselves in the business sectors, limit our employment in the public sector on the basis of mother tongue spoken in the home, limit the strength and vitality of English Educational (Elementary and High Schools) institutions by denying all immigrants choice of schools, and they have created an institution of language police to enforce the signage rules. I am having real problems seeing the difference between what Quebec and Canada are doing, under the guise of preserving the French culture in Canada, and what these other “oppressive countries” are doing in order to preserve what they see as their own culture and ideas.

The argument

Thus, based on these considerations we argue that, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Quebec language rights and culture are more secure throughout Canada than English language rights are in Quebec. Any threat to the French language now, is more imagined than real. Thus, the BCRC, and the Black Forum, urge the Government to respect the Constitutional Rights of the English-speaking peoples of Quebec. We urge the Government to use other ways of preserving and promoting the French language and Culture, without displaying the disregard that Bill 86 shows for those procedures and administrative arrangements essential to sustaining, in spirit and practice, the principles of a true democracy.

There is a tendency in both French-speaking Quebec and English Canada to confuse “equal” with “equality” when it comes to dealing with minorities. As Blacks, we are very aware of this problem, and suffer the consequences of those practices in the poor distribution of resources for sustaining the vitality of minority groups, whether it be in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada. We therefore fully agree with CQGN, when it says: “applying the same rules to everyone ensures that great sections of society will be disadvantaged. The principle of substantive equality is well founded in law, and has been proven time and again the best policy approach for achieving societal objectives. One size does not fit all.”

It may very well be that there are too many school Boards in the French sector. And that there are cost efficiencies to be gained in reducing the number of Boards. But, while that policy might be essential to a general strategy for improving the management of educational resources in the Province as a whole, it does not logically, or in any social and politically optimal sense, require that the Government reduce school Boards in the English minority sector by the same proportions. Furthermore, we agree with CQGN when it says:

“Schools are not simply places where children are instructed. They are the cornerstone of communities, and their management and control is there best effected. Centralizing the power to manage and control these institutions–separating them from their communities–reduces, and will eventually remove schools as community institutions. What region in Quebec is prepared to lose its English schools and communities?”

Therefore, we take this opportunity to strongly recommend that electoral rights of parents and the community, with respect to electing officers of school Boards, be retained as a fundamental democratic principle. But, we recommend that school Boards be required to reflect the communities they serve. Thus, we strongly recommend that school Boards be required to appoint Multicultural Multiracial Advisory Committees, similar to the system that was used by the English Montreal School Board, and which gave representation to the diverse populations in the school system under CODE: CS-13. [http://www.emsb.qc.ca/en/governance_en/pdf/BoardPolicies/CommunityServices/MCMREducation.pdf]

The EMSB terminated the function of the Advisory committee that worked with the Board in the implementation and over view of this policy. They did this in a rather undemocratic way and without consultation; because they had discretionary power to do so. We strongly suggest that this system be re-instated, and that the policy become part of the new act requiring that School Boards implement this policy. We applaud the Ministry decision to create seats for what it described as co-opted commissioners from the sport and health sectors. We urge the Ministry to expand this to include other organizations in the voluntary community sector and the racialized minority communities that are most at risk of exclusion and racial discrimination.

Dr. Clarence Bayne

The BCRC Black Community Forum Secretariat.

 

For Full Version of Semaji Septemer 2016 Click Here

Armed with the Facts

Armed with the Facts—Premier Couillard is called upon to act. Examination and Reformation of the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission requested

By Yvonne Sam.

Chairman (Rights and Freedoms Committee) Black Community Resource Centre

 

As the issue on race relations persists in this country, especially the province of Quebec, the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission has, by their actions, been brought into the fray, and is now the focus of glaring racial attention. From its initial inception, the Commission was specifically mandated to ensure that Québec’s laws, by-laws, standards and institutional practices, both public and private, comply with the Charter, which prohibits discrimination based on race, colour, ethnic or national origin and religion, in the exercise of human rights and freedoms. Sadly, however, the current structure of the Commission has failed to live up to this mandate, specifically, but not restricted to, senior managers, legal affairs and employment equity where, currently, there is no racial or linguistic diversity. There is also an unprecedented absence of Black English-speaking lawyers and investigators, since the Commission bade farewell to the last Black English-speaking lawyer, Mme. Esmeralda Thornhill, over two decades ago.

 

Included in the population of Quebec are the visible minority citizens who number about 850,000, of which over 1, 000,000 are English-speaking. While the Human Rights Commission benefits all citizens, one cannot lightly dismiss the fact that the citizens most likely to require the services under the mandate of the Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission are the minority populations. In order for the Commission to be seen as being true and fair to its mission and mandate, there must be people in the Commission who are, themselves, representatives of visible minorities and/or the English-speaking population. A clear understanding of the minority populations inhabiting Quebec must be foremost in the minds of those responsible for the nominations.

 

The Premier of Quebec, Hon. Philippe Couillard, as the holder of ultimate power, is called upon to act in a manner that is reflective of, not only his sterling governance, but also his government’s commitment to diversion and inclusivity, by examining and reforming the Commission. This is of critical importance, especially in light of the four, currently existing, vacancies that are soon to be filled at the Commission’s level. At risk is the public’s image of the Commission, as well as the underlying veracity of rendered decisions.

 

Decisions affecting minorities and communities of color will always be a litmus test of race relations with the Commission. For race relations to improve, the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission need to have the moral courage to acknowledge systemic racism, speak truth to power and most importantly show by their composition that they are fulfilling their mandate in fighting racial discrimination and injustice. Blacks and other people of colour should not, through the displayed composition of the investigative parties, be left with no other alternative but to conclude that the Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission are pursuing their own agenda.

 

The current situation cannot, and must not, be allowed to go unchecked or unaddressed, as it blatantly constitutes a precondition for all to understand the material realities of racism that daily scars the lifescapes and landscapes of Blacks in Quebec. To those directly empowered at the appointees/nomination level, serious attention and consideration is required to the factors already stated, in addition to tangible actions that translate into policies designed to make and maintain a difference in the human rights, freedom and liberties of the population regardless of color, language, race or creed.

 

In addition, let this fact not be overlooked, that as long as racialized minorities fear and mistrust the Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission, then democracy has failed to live up to its ideals.

 

For Full Version of Semaji September 2016 Click Here

Montreal’s 2016 Black Community Forum

On June 16, 2016, the BCRC went down in history as the hosts of the, second only, Black Community Forum in Montreal. Held at 6767 Cote-des-Neiges, where the BCRC offices are located, the Forum brought together individuals and organizations that hold, as their mandate, the goal of meeting the needs of the Montreal Black Community. It was here that the Forum addressed what had been done in the past, what was being done in the present, and what should be done in the future.

The goal of the Forum was to inspire unity within the organizations so that we can better serve the Community. Issues that are prevalent within the Community were presented and, as a group, strategies were discussed on the ways in which we can address them. However, before we get into the issues that were presented at the Forum, it is important that we look to the first Black Community Forum, which was held at Val Morin, Quebec, in 1992.

Val Morin Community Forum

The 1992 Val Morin Black Community Forum, the predecessor of the recent Community Forum in Montreal, certainly set the stage for the 2016 Forum. Preparation for the 1992 Forum actually began in 1990/1991. This began when the activists and organizations from the Montreal English-Speaking Black Community met with the Quebec government and the city of Montreal to demand that the presence of Blacks in Quebec be recognized. In response to this demand the Quebec Government created the “Table de Concertation for the English Speaking Black Community” in 1991/1992. It was due to this Table de Concertation that the first Black Community Forum was held at Val Morin.

During this Val Morin Forum, the Community identified issues within the Black Community and came up with six priorities in order to address these issues: support for the Black Family, anti-racism strategies, economic development, reinforcement of community structures, education, and art/culture.

The main purpose of the 1992 Forum, as with the 2016 Forum, was to unite the Community Organizations in order to better serve the community. Due to this, the Forum had no charter and received its authority and power from the organizations within it. This was because the main purpose of the Forum was to foster unity. Other purposes of the Forum included: to develop an internal agenda in the community; strengthen and reinforce community structures; get more resources into the community; and help organizations use resources effectively. The Forum was also an important aspect of the BCRC, since it was the catalyst that shaped BCRC into the organization that it is today and made it into the secretariat of the community leadership Forum.

English-Speaking Minorities

We began the Forum with the topic of the “Status and Future of the English-Speaking Minorities in Montreal and Quebec.” As the Forum focuses on the English-speaking Black community, it seemed appropriate to begin with this topic.

The session began with a presentation from Sylvia Martin-Laforge, from QCGN. QCGN is an organization that works to understand the issues that face the English-speaking community in Quebec. Ms. Martin-Laforge spoke about policies that affect the English-speaking community in Quebec and how we can use other acts and policies to protect our rights as a minority. Since unity is such an important sentiment in this Forum, Ms. Martin-Laforge also mentioned ways in which we can use Official Languages core funding to end the fragmentation that the federal government has subjected us to. Without the need to compete for project funding, which, at the moment, is needed for our very survival, we would be able to become a more unified front. As Ms. Martin-Laforge told us, we have to be willing and open to change policy, because it will not change on its own.

We then heard from Lorraine O’Donnell, from QUESCREN, which deals in research capacity and community development for the English speaking community of Quebec. Ms. O’Donnell also called for unity, as well as collective research and sharing of knowledge. It is through this knowledge and partnerships that we will be able to support, sustain and strengthen minority cultures and communities.

 

Settlement and Development Model

During the second part of the Forum presentation, “Exploring the English-Speaking Black Communities Settlement and Development Model: Education, Development and Employability,” I noticed that throughout all of the presentations, no matter how different these organizations were from each other, the same problems and issues were being addressed. These presentations mostly focused on programs that are being offered to the community, especially in regards to youth programs. We heard from Corey Seaton and Alex Adrien from QBBE, Tamara Hart from DESTA, Sean Seales from BCRC, and Quincy Armorer from the Black Theatre Workshop.

QBBE, which is an organization that deals with education, the family and community development, presented one of their newest family programs, as well as a successful summer program. DESTA, which is an organization that works with at-risk, marginalized youth, between the ages of 18 and 25, in the areas of education, health, personal development, and employment, presented some of their programs as well. These programs include: tutoring, prison outreach, and mental health support. BCRC, which is a resource based organization with a holistic approach, presented their newest program for at-risk youth, “House of Kings and Queens.” Finally, we heard about school tours from BTW, which is an organization that gives recognition to Black culture and community through the theatre.

While these organizations spoke about their projects, there were also some common grievances that were mentioned. We see concerns for education, youth, family, self-worth, representation, and in some cases a concern about the lack of core funding which is a dividing factor between the organizations that work toward the same goals.

Do Black Lives Matter

In this third section a topic was introduced that captured the attention of every audience member: “Do Black Lives Matter?” The session was introduced by Yvonne Sam, who has worked tirelessly to bring this matter to the attention of the Quebec and Canadian governments. We then heard from Rolf Francois and Fo Niemi (CRARR), as well as discussants Tiffany Callander, Pharoah Freeman, and Tamara Hart. This was also a topic that many people in the audience contributed to.

Many major issues were brought up, such as government policy, civil rights, and representation in positions of authority. However, the biggest issue, and the one that has consistently been mentioned throughout the Forum, has been unity. As Ms. Sam had said during her presentation, “we are only as strong as we are united; as weak as we are divided.”

It was on this issue of unity that many hands were raised in the audience. As we all know, it is hard to be a unified front when there are government policies that are working to divide us. There are policies on funding, and lack of core funding, that set the organizations against each other; lobbying for grants and financing in order to survive. There are also language laws that divide us from the French-speaking Black communities. As well, a deterrent to unity can sometimes be the term unity itself. Will becoming unified mean losing all individuality? As one of our audience members pointed out, we are not all made up of one identity. We are made up of identity based on gender, skin colour, and family ties, among others. However, as our panelists cautioned the audience, “unity does not equal uniformity.”

Black History Month Round Table Plenary

In this section we heard from Michael Farkas, the president of the Black History Month Round Table. He not only spoke about the future, but the past as well when he explained the link between the Val Morin Forum and the Round Table.

Although Mr. Farkas spoke about practical issues, such as events and plans for a virtual event page, he also spoke about the meaning and purpose behind the Round Table. The Round Table works to preserve the Montreal Black Community’s history and culture. It gives us a voice, in that we are able to write our own history. It also gives the community visibility and credibility. As was the trend in the Forum sessions, Mr. Farkas also spoke about unity. He ended his presentation by suggesting a virtual portal for cultural events that would be accessible by all the community’s organizations.

Closing Discussions

To close out the event we looked at topics such as health and historical preservation. We began with a presentation from the ad hoc community committee for health care in the Black Community. We were informed about sickle cell anemia, diabetes, hypertension, and prostate cancer; medical conditions that statistically have a higher percentage in the Black community. We were also informed on mental health and the effects that this can have on a minority community, who faces additional challenges and has less resources to address these issues.

We then heard from Greg Pink, in collaboration with Dr. Bayne, on the new archive being constructed on the BSC website in order to preserve our long and rich history.

Conclusion

I think that it is important to give our thanks to the people who helped to make this Forum a reality. We have the BCRC who hosted and financed the Forum in itself, as well as the BCRC staff who organized things behind the scenes; Dr. Bayne who called the Forum after all of these years and put together the material; all of the panelists and discussants who shared their knowledge and ideas with us; and Patricia Dillon Moore, our moderator, who kept everyone in good spirits, and of course for made sure everyone kept to the time table as closely as possible. A big thank you also goes to the individuals and organizations that came to listen and give their opinions.

As we have seen throughout this Forum, there are many issues that remain unresolved in our community. The BCRC and our partner organizations are working tirelessly to address these issues; however, these issues also effect the community at large. So, please let us know your opinions! You can leave comments under the Semaji on the BCRC website (http://bcrcmontreal.com/semaji-june-2016/), on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BCRC-765045140262703/), or e-mail me at editor@bcrcmontreal.com. Also, we will be featuring a new page in all future Semaji issues, titled “The Community Voice.” So if you would like your opinions or questions to be featured in the Semaji let me know in your e-mails. And remember, as Ms. Martin-Laforge has said, change will not happen spontaneously, we must make our voices heard to affect change.

For full version of Semaji June 2016 Click Here

Black Community Forum June 16 2016

A Summary Report from the BCRC Forum Secretariat

By Dr. Clarence S. Bayne

 

24 years after the First Black Community Forum at Val Morin (July 3-5 1992), key Black Community organizations were called together by the Black Community Resource Center (BCRC), at 6767 Cote-des-Neiges. The general purpose of this Community Forum was to review the Val Morin recommendations and priorities, to inform and to invite participation in the development of a community agenda. The BCRC, which acted as the Secretariat of the Community Forum, worked in collaboration with key organizations in the French and English speaking Black communities and ad hoc community committees to develop the agenda and set priorities for the future. The Community Forum thanks the BCRC for staffing the Forum and for providing the materials, space, equipment, and refreshments. It also thanks the Black History Month Round Table for organizing four of the ad hoc community committee meetings and the preparation and distribution of minutes and reports. Thanks also to Yvonne Sam, Fo Niemi of CRARR, Rolf Francois of UNIA, and Dave LaPommeray for their research contributions and for organizing the Rights and Freedoms ad hoc Community meetings.

Different organizations took turns at hosting the meetings of ad hoc community meetings, giving many organizations and individuals the chance to participate in and contribute to the process. Thanks to the Black Youth in Motion, the BCRC staff, DESTA Black Youth Net Work, and the Black Theatre Workshop for hosting those meetings. Finally a great debt is owed to the Black Studies Center (BSC)’s Archive technical staff, in particular Roythan Pink who, with the able assistance of Raeanne Frances and Ashlie Bienvenu (BCRC staff), conducted the technical scripting and operations.

The introductory and opening speakers, Patricia Dillon-Moore and Dr. Clarence S. Bayne, pointed to the fact that the BCRC has historically played a significant role in keeping the Forum mechanism in place and operational since 2000. Minutes in the BCRC Archive, dated April 2004, shows that BCRC has consistently used its resources, and access to resources, to administer and facilitate this process. One example of this process was the hosting of the meetings of ad hoc community meetings, in order to address priority issues and the collective needs of the community. One such significant instance is the City of Montreal Black Task Force chaired by Marcel Tremblay in 2004. BCRC has indicated that it will continue to provide administrative resources and to house the Secretariat of the Community Forum. It has informed the Forum that it is willing, in collaboration with the ad hoc community committees and key organizations, whose missions and mandates address the priorities set by the Form, to call and host meetings of the Community Forum, prepare the agendas, inform the community and organize subsequent community forums.

A Message to the Federal and Provincial Governments from the Forum

For years the Black community organizations have made the case at the Federal and Provincial levels of government, that it is incumbent upon the government to facilitate partnerships between its various Ministries and departments and the appropriate Black community organizations. However, Dr. Bayne, in his welcoming address to the Forum, expressed the view that both the Federal and Provincial governments have abandoned the Black communities in Quebec. This is especially true of the English speaking Black communities, making the members of these communities effectively “constitutionalized field niggers” of the Trudeau “notwithstanding clause” and the collateral consequences of Bill 101. In Session 1 that followed, the Executive Director of QCGN (Sylvia Martin-Laforge ) astutely pointed out that, under the Canadian Constitution, linguistic communities have inalienable rights that are provided for by certain funding agreements. She argued that Blacks in Quebec should cash in on their linguistic rights enjoyed here, as elsewhere in Canada, and from the benefits of Multiculturalism as a state policy. Following on these discussions the following general recommendations from Val Morin 1992 were reaffirmed.

GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS

A permanent mechanism

The Forum is to be used as a permanent mechanism in the community to ensure that the groups/organizations whose missions and mandates are directed at finding solutions to the priorities established by the Forum, develop strategies and take actions to meet the demands of those priorities. It states, “Community organizations must make efforts to access the range of government resources and services as other communities do on a regular basis.”

Demands for long-term core Funding

A recurring theme in the committee meetings was the administrative instability and discontinuities in the services of organizations, resulting from lack of core funding due to shifts in government policies and biased private and institutional corporate funding. This Forum, like the Val Morin Forum, recommended that the Government of Canada, and the Provincial Government of Quebec, provide sustaining funds for Black organizations with a long-term mandate serving the community and Canadians. It also recommended that, in particular, Heritage Canada, Immigration and Cultural Communities, Library and Archives Canada and other ministries and departments provide long-term recurring funding to mandated Black community based organizations. In addition, it was also suggested that they assist in strengthening Black community based organizations, and facilitate in the creation and transfer of knowledge. This can be accomplished by providing core funding to ensure the implementation and maintenance of professional communications network centers and digitized archival system.

Consensus forming functions of Forum

The current Forum, like the Val Morin Forum, agrees that during a crisis in the Black community, or when decisions are to be made that impact on the entire community (such as decisions relating to toponymy), we will agree to meet to determine the policy goals, to decide how best to inform and involve the wider community in the decisions, and to mandate spokes people to speak on behalf of the community on the issue.

There is general agreement that the Forum be used to create a consensus of opinion and to identify who will speak on behalf of the Black community in times of crisis. For the June 16 Community Forum, the main focus was on rights and freedoms and the seeming failures of the Human Rights Commission; issues of systemic racism; the action taken by key community organizations to deal with the development of the Black child in the triangle of home, school and the community; issues of mental health; culture and identity, and approaches to the management of different cultures and identities in the Black communities. Economic development was not addressed at this Forum.

Black Community Business and Economic Development Summit

The Forum Secretariat felt that, based on the research available, this topic merited a Forum or summit to address it properly and in a productive and creative manner. Thus, the Secretariat proposed that a detailed review be done 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. To give authority to this decision the Secretariat revisited recommendation 6.2.1.9 of the Val Morin Forum Report which states:

“A FORUM BE HELD TO INFORM AND INVOLVE THE WIDER BLACK COMMUNITY IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.” This recommendation was, in part, implemented by the McGill Study of the “Evolution of the Black Communities of Montreal” (2001). Professors Bayne and Saade have also published a series of papers on the rise of the business and social entrepreneur in the Black English speaking communities of Montreal, the use of information and communication technologies in community development, and the Yolande James Task Force (2006).

Over the last ten years there has been no formal investigation of the measured impact of the initiatives of all levels of government, private and public institutions, and social and private entrepreneurs in the Black communities on advancing the objective of the Yolande James Task Force: to bring about a full participation of the Black Communities in Québec Society. In particular, special attention needs to be given to the status and future of the English speaking Black communities over the last 25 years.

Black Community Priorities

Based on a review of the minutes of meetings of the ad hoc community meetings, a survey of key organizations conducted by ICED, the Yolande James Task Force Report, published research by Mc Gill Consortium for Ethnicity and Social Planning, and the presentations and discussions at the Community Forum June 16 2016, the following are identified as priorities for our communities :

  1. Support for the Black Family
  2. General and Mental Health
  3. Youth, Education, Employment and Employability
  4. Arts and Culture
  5. Rights and Freedom: anti-Racism Strategies
  6. Economic Development
  7. Reinforcement of Community Structures and organizations
  8. A Black Community libraries, archive and communication network system

Structure and authority and functions of the Forum

It has been noted that, while the Forum is not an organization in itself, it is a facilitating mechanism. Thus, the Forum recommendations and the subsequent amendments are priorities/guidelines for us to move on and work on. The responsibility for implementing these policies, therefore, goes to the community organizations. Thus, the role of the Forum will be to provide a meeting place for the community to identify policy issues, to review options, to attempt to develop a consensus whenever possible, and to effectively communicate this consensus. Subject to budget constraints, the Forum Secretariat will be responsible for specific tasks assigned to it by the Forum: the creation of specified sub-committees for dealing with community priorities; making the community, the government ministries and departments aware and informed of the priorities and needs of the communities; monitoring the implementation and encouraging organizations to participate by observing and integrating the recommendations into their practices; determining the date of the next General Black Community Forum.

Recommendation 6.5.1.14 of the Val Morin Forum requires that the Forum (Secretariat) “resolve, in its future consultation with the wider Black community, ensures that a proper and timely system of notification and communication be employed to allow for more meaningful participation from groups. Other groups are encouraged to also share this objective.”

Information gathering and Communication

With respect to the gathering, archiving and communication of information, there is already in place the Black Community Library and Archives project developed by the Black Studies Center in collaboration with the QBBE, the BCRC and ICED. It specializes in processing the archives of the English Speaking Black/Pan African communities. The Forum also agrees that the Black History Month Round Table will be responsible for promoting Pan Black/Pan Afrique identity defining events as defined in the Manifesto of identity events approved by an ad hoc community committee meeting. The Forum requires that this sub-committee be responsive to all groups within the larger Black and Canadian communities for information and knowledge about the pan-Black/pan Afrique peoples and communities.

 

For full version of Semaji June 2016 Click Here

 

 

House of Kings and Queens

A Truly Individualized Program, Tailored for Each Specific Person

We, at the BCRC, would like to present our upcoming program: House of Kings and Queens. Due to an interview with the chief coordinator of the program, Shimmon Hutchinson, we now have an inside view of this wonderful, one-of-a-kind program. The “Kings and Queens” program seeks to explore a new avenue that has not been used by any past programs for “at-risk” youth. This is a truly individualized program, tailored for each specific person. As Mr. Hutchinson has stated, “the strength of the program is the strength of the individual.

Kings and Queens provides children with role models that are closer to their value system and community, as well as tailor these youth to become role models and mentors in their own community. In fact, Hutchinson said that, “the main objectives inside of the program are to build on a lot of the micro skills with kids to be able to help them affect change in their community.” This will be done by giving the children and youth a sense of empowerment.

This program also goes well beyond the school system and plans to give aid to the families as well. A portion of the program will also go towards strengthening services and institutions. According to Hutchinson, “it’s this whole concept that because the kids are improving community services through the acquisition of skills they have inside the group then it’s improving the services that we use to recommend to the families, so it’s this very cyclical, strengthening pattern that we’re hoping to create.”

The Kings and Queens will be a great benefit to the Montreal community. It would “increase connection to services, increase connection to schools, lower dropout rates, improve grades, improve the chances of youth continuing to graduate studies—post-graduate studies or Cegep.” However, while it would be beneficial to the community, the most important aspect of the program is making a change with the individual. According to Hutchinson, “There’s so many things that I think it will improve, but I think it would really depend upon the individual, who is kind of telling me what they want, what they need.

When asked where he saw this program going in the future Mr. Hutchinson declared that his long-term goals “would be if this was something that could be run in all of the schools, engaging as many organizations as it possibly can, having everyone on board so as if we are almost creating like a common culture and a common ideology to be able to help children, I think that in itself would be so powerful, if everyone is working together.”

For Full Version of Semaji March 2016 Click Here