The “Stop the Brain-Drain Project” is a creation of the BCRC suggested by its policies for employment and employability under a strategy of holistic community development programming. The first stage of this development strategy is putting in places programs that ensure that Black youth are employable. They must graduate from high school and have at least a college or technical certification. The next stage is helping them to be successful in finding employment in Quebec and participating fully in the Quebec and Canadian society. That has proven problematic in spite of the fact that Black acquisition of education goods is equivalent to that of the larger population (Yolande James Task Force 2006; The Secretariat for Relations English Speaking Quebecer, Data from Census 2016). In fact, the system continues to keep Blacks and other minorities in the hinterland spaces of Canadian society or as enclave agents.
The Black Community Resource Center (BCRC) in collaboration with the CEDEC and ASCion conducted a study of Black graduates to determine their intention and desire to make careers in Montreal ( http://cedec.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/CEDEC-ACCE-_Employer-Survey-Report_August-2015_FINAL_EN_Branded-1.pdf ). This survey is part of what is described as the African-Canadian Career Excellence (ACCE).
The ACCE Initiatives intends to:
- Encourage Black graduates, in particular, to stay in the province of Quebec in order to contribute to the vitality of the middle-class community as a whole.
- Assist employers as they move toward diversifying their workforce.
The initiative hopes to mitigate the exodus of educated Black youth by helping them attain meaningful and sustainable local employment that is commensurate with their skills. The survey proved very positive in terms of the intention and desire of Black graduates to remain and build careers in Montreal. However, further studies and statistical analyses of Statistic Canada census data show a troublesome problem that strongly suggests negative biases against Blacks, other visible minorities and immigrants. Moreover, studies conducted by the University of Montreal (Faculty of Education: Professor Marie McAndrew) over the last ten years warn about the possible increase in the failure rate and delay in the graduation of English speaking Black youths of Caribbean ancestry in the French School system. BCRC has moved to address this problem by its program “House of Kings and Queens. The Quebec Board of Black Educators, in spite of financial problems, continues to assist Montreal youth complete failed credits each summer. (It hosted 120 High School youth at Dawson College this summer, July –August 2018). The Black Theatre Workshop has recruited 15 young Montreal professional artists into their Artists Mentorship Program (See Black Theatre Workshop Program at http://www.blacktheatreworkshop.ca/artist-mentorship-program/. All these organizations are part of network collaboration with BCRC and are members of the Black Community Forum.
There were some attempts of ACSion to organize Black students and graduates to more effectively do job searches in 2016. However, the responsibility of generating the resources to do the job of addressing this problem was officially handed over from the CEDEC to the BCRC in 2016. BCRC accepted the responsibility, but based on its knowledge of the situation decided that the approach had to be broader than just teaching graduates how to make attractive applications and pass interviews. BCRC reached the conclusion that a more holistic approach to community development was required. First and foremost the Black community had to be mobilized if only partially, to change perceptions in the public and private spheres about the competence and capabilities and rights of being of Blacks in Canada and Quebec. So BCRC revitalized the 1992 Val Morin Black Community Forum for which it acts as the Secretariat. This is intended to create a sense of community and provide a set of priorities, principles and recommendations that have the broad acceptance of a wide proportion of Black community organizations and other network partners. It avoids setting up a hierarchical autocratic federation. This circumvention of autocracy helps organizations to focus on their particular missions and to increase the flexibility for quicker response to rapidly changing external environments, and enable better management of the complexity derived possible social and economic catastrophes of fragmented communities that are administrative constructs from multiple sources of immigration and different cultures. The BCF, therefore, operates on the principle of “an alliance of the willing few” linked by the principle of “collaborative unity and existential responsibility.” This does not reduce completely the incidences of internecine “suicide bombings/badmouthing”. Nor the opportunities for opposite interests and those of ill will to exploit the weaknesses of this fragmentation. But it gives us a somewhat better chance to manage our own destiny a bit.
As a member of the revitalized Black Community Forum, BCRC has accepted the responsibility placed on it by the ACCE partners to engage key partners and stakeholders to help mitigate the exodus of young educated Blacks from Montreal.
First Stage of the strategy
To date, BCRC has recruited the support of the Black Studies Center, the Black Academic Scholarship Fund, the Quebec Black Medical Association (QDMA), the Quebec Board of Black Educators, and the Black Theatre Workshop. Moving forward we aim to engage other key partners and stakeholders within the Community, Universities as well as the private and public sector to help mitigate the exodus of young educated Blacks from Montreal. We aim to continue encouraging young Blacks to participate in building the intensity within the community to:
- Encourage networking within Montreal’s Black community to achieve more unifying and effective strategies for advancing Black life and full participation in Canadian and Quebec soc
- Enhance professional capacity building and strive toward having a civic workforce with a representative number of Black employees.
- Help Montreal’s Black graduates find gainful and sustainable employment in their various areas of specialization with salaries commensurate to their qualifications and provide potential employers with highly qualified professionals.
- Reduce the unemployment rate in Montreal, especially within the Black community.
The next stage of the program for the BASF and BCRC is the putting in place of a strategy to bring diversity employers and potential employees together. This will require network involvement and a longer horizon before the fruits of our labour are seen. There are no quick fixes for this and multiple strategies will be required with very little help from public sources. But BCRC and BASF are collaborating and already working on a database and resource booklet that will provide information to potential employees and job seekers. BASF is building a business and leadership mentorship support system and BTW is expanding and improving on its Artist Mentorship program to include arts management training of professional artists.
Capacity is in short supply. But the Forum is coming alive.
Dr. Clarence S. Bayne
Chair of the Secretariat of the BCF