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—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

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.


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 (https://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

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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.


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 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 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



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

The Black Community Leadership Forum will be hosting a working conference of its member organizations and partners on June 16, 2016. The Forum was approved by the BCRC Board of Directors at its Board meeting of December 7 2015. The Conference will be held at 6767 Cotes des Neiges and, very shortly, the agenda and invitations will be sent out to the BCRC’s member organizations, collaborators and supporting agencies.

The purpose of the meeting is to bring together BCRC’s associated organizations, partners and collaborators to revisit and update the Val Morin Agreement of 1992. The meeting will re-affirm the basic principles of cooperation and collaboration. For example, the organizations and its members’ commitment to strengthening the vitality of the community by focusing on the health and vitality of its members. We will also continue to search for new strategies for education and development of the youth and future leadership, as well as strengthening and supporting families and enrichment of the lives of the aging subpopulation. Another topic will involve seeking greater community support for the arts, cultural and educational institutions central to the shaping of our identities, and improving the channels through which we contribute to the creation of a sustainable social and economic environment, a just, equitable and more inclusive and empathetic society.

Within that framework, the intent is to revisit the current evolved strategies of long term community development with a view to encourage the support and cooperation, of the community and between the community and partners. We also hope to expand the cross cultural communication and exchange of ideas and best practices, as well as replace intuitive and untested impulse decision making by a planning process that is information based, dynamic and responsive to change. We will also work to strengthen the existing relationships within our network by exploring more fully the use of communication and information technologies for knowledge transfer within the network of members and collaborators. And, finally, we hope to encourage and promote the development and effective implementation of strategies that benefit the total community. That is to say, we give preference to social economy engagement as opposed to purely individualistic private profit or self-serving activities. The market does the latter better that we can.

The Black Community Forum was originally created in the early nineties by the “Table de Concertation” for the English Speaking Communities of Montreal in response to the expressed desire of those communities “to develop a cooperative planning process” as an engine for its development. Initially, it was intended to be a forum for “informing and involving the wider community in the policy initiatives being discussed at the Table with the three levels of Government.” Protocols for the Forum were created over a six week period by some thirty community based organizations and presented and approved at the Val Morin conference in July, 1992. The Forum worked on an informal basis for five to seven years, at the end of which all of its sub-committees came under the coordinating functions of the BCRC. The BCRC inherited, hosted and provided administrative support to three sub-committees approved by the Table de Concertation: the Heath Committee, the Education/youth sector, and community economic development community committees. Arts and culture was subsumed into the community and Education function. The key agencies given the arts and cultural mandate were West Can Dance, Cultural Agency and the Black Theatre Workshop. Other agencies used cultural camps and programs for arts and culture. These agencies include the QBBE, the BCCQ Community Associations and the Black Studies Center Cultural program for mixed race families. The community economic development initiatives lost its central focus and community significance and became divided up between competing entities: CDN-BCA, YES Montreal, a research oriented collaboration between ICED Concordia and QBBE, the Black Studies Center, and the Government of Quebec Black Entrepreneurship Fund.

The 10th Black Community Leadership Forum retained a sense of strategic unity by holding meetings hosted by the BCRC. The Forum held its tenth meeting, on April 13, 2004, to discuss support for three community projects and to coordinate the collective community’s (French and English) submissions to the City’s Black Task Force, Chaired by Marcil Trenblay. As a result of Community initiatives coordinated by the BCRC, with the support of its Black French partners ( Maison d’Haiti, La Ligue de Noirs, and the Black History Month Table), Marcel Tremblay, Associated Councillor for the Mayor, reported to the Forum and the Committee for the Economic Development of the Black Community that five Boroughs were committed to work to find solutions to “the problems identified by the Montreal Black communities, within the sphere of its jurisdiction, and to employment, dwelling, infrastructures and services; and play a leadership and support role for the proposed initiatives which decision are made by other levels of government.” (Letter dated November 4, 2004, Cabinet du Maire et du Comté Executive, Hotel de Ville). These interventions led to the Yolande James Black Task Force, which reported in 2005.

Since then there has been significant changes in Quebec, Montreal and Canada over the last twenty-five years. There have been changes in demographics, changes in political and social philosophies, institutional changes, economic changes, and infrastructural and environmental changes. Tracking of developments in the Black communities of Montreal has been done and records kept and reported by ICED Concordia, the BSC, and the McGill Consortium for Ethnicity and Strategic Social planning (the Evolution of the Black Community of Montreal), and the City and Provincial Governments Black Task Forces (2004 and 2005).

The Black communities, like all other cultural communities, both minority and non-minority, have had to adapt and react to these changes. In the Black community, new organizations have been created and some have evolved or disappeared. Things have changed since the sixties, partly because of the activism of the sixties and partly because of the dynamism of the interaction of forces and agencies in the environment at large. Now there are a higher proportion of Black youth in colleges and Universities that are Canadian born than was the case 26 years ago. Black education and employment capacity has kept pace with other visible and non-visible minorities. This has been substantiated by the McAndrew Report Commissioned by the QBBE (2004), the McGill Consortium studies, and the reviews of ICED, Concordia. But, while employment income has improved there is still an unacceptably lower probability that a Black person will get a job compared with a white person of equivalent, or even lesser, education status. There is still a perception in the Black community that Blacks are more likely to be the victims of racial profiling. There are real hard questions being asked in the Black communities concerning the effectiveness of the strategies for community development undertaken by agencies in the community, as well as interventions by the various levels of Government. There is a feeling that the breakdown of the united voice that the BCCQ was able to create, in the seventies through to the late nineties, has been replaced by inter-organizational conflict as we return to competing for funds to sustain our presence in the society and the communities.

There is a body of opinion in the Black community that accuses young educated Blacks of abandoning the community; in other words, not giving back. This is frequently countered by the argument that the organizations need to change to reflect social and political changes, new needs and shift to new strategies that are now possible but were not twenty five years ago. Some young, educated Blacks feel that they are in positions where they should be invited to make decisions that impact entire sectors of the society, and that many of the Black community agencies still act as outsiders rather than as Nation influencers. For example, it is clear that the question of the education of the Black child can no longer be addressed simply as a matter of removing racism from the English school system. Because, in Quebec, we have to deal with the larger question of linguistic preferences and the negative impact of the historic struggle between two European settler classes that have become embedded in the struggle for minority rights in Quebec and Canada. This has divided Caribbean cultural groups, which one might expect to be more united around rights and freedoms, along linguistic lines that are foreign to their historical origins and New World experiences and struggles. Also, there are those that believe that they can solve what is a general problem for all peoples in the society, as well as the health of the economy, by setting up a separate school system. Is it possible? And, if so, at what price? What are the real net social and direct, and indirect, economic benefits to the potential participating community members? Can the current models in the community at large be improved to meet our needs with greater networking among us? We hope to hear from experts across communities on this.

It is clear that we need to take a serious look at where we are and where we are going. But, that will require that we do not merely meet and speak with ourselves. There have been initiatives taken by others that must be considered and integrated into our leadership forum. One such situation is the work being done by CQGN in the Education sector as a representative of the constitutional rights of the English-speaking cultural groups and Citizens of Canada in Quebec. Another situation has to do with health, community development, and most specifically art and culture and the recognition of our contributions to the cultural vitality of Quebec and Canada. We will be paying particular attention to the recommendations and implications of new policy initiatives being advanced for our moving forward by two recent community meetings: a community meeting called by the Round Table on December 4, 2015 and the Pan-Black Identities manifesto, approved at a recent Community meeting called by La Ligue des Noirs and accepted as guidelines by the Round Table Meeting of December 4, 2015.

We invite your feedback and comments.

For Full Version of Semaji March 2016 Click Here

February 21, a very special day, marked the culmination of an extraordinary project called Standing on Their Shoulders. A little over one year ago this project was birthed, a team was assembled and a community was informed that their neighbourhood would be touched in a way like never before. The mission of the Standing on Their Shoulders project was to capture, highlight and preserve the history and contributions of Montreal’s Black English-speaking community in the Little Burgundy district. This new and different approach was to be separate from past endeavors that focused solely on “jazz” or “the railroad”. This approach focused on a generation of people who first came to create the community of Little Burgundy during Canadian Confederation to find work on the railroad. We also set out to document the effects that would be carried through from generation to generation. Standing on Their Shoulders was all about capturing the history behind jazz legends and historical buildings still found in the community today. However, simply documenting the historical changes ourselves was not enough for this unique project. We intended to involve the community itself to highlight and preserve its history.


The project was divided into three phases. The first was about teaching the history to a new generation of young Black English-speaking youth in Little Burgundy. This was done through a series of workshops and walking tours with youth, along with the support of our partner organizations such as Desta Black Youth Network, Club Energy, Tyndale St. Georges, and Youth in Motion. The second part of the project focused on scouting out 20 youth who wanted to create their own videos capturing Little Burgundy’s history through their own form of artistic interpretation. This phase also included connecting with the elders of the Little Burgundy community to gather as much oral and archival history as possible. This served to provide a pool of information for our youth, who would choose their own piece of Little Burgundy’s history to interpret. Finally, the last phase focused on assisting the 20 young directors in creating their own three minute videos. With our partners from Great Things Studio and Concordia’s CEREV, our youth learnt video directing techniques and got much more acquainted with the history of their video topics. On February 21, 2016, these very talented youth had their brilliant work displayed at our video launch. The videos were rich in history and displayed in excellent quality. Over 200 people came out to attend our event, including all three elected officials from the three levels of government. Our youth were recognized and so were our elders for all of their hard work and dedication.


If you, or someone you know, would like to watch these videos then please stay tuned. They will be available online shortly. You can find out when and where on the BCRC website at www.BCRCmontreal.com.

For Full Version of Semaji March 2016 Click Here

Hello, my name is Adanne and this is my story of following my roots. It all began when we decided to clean out the attic one rainy day. While cleaning we came across an old trunk that belonged to my great-grandmother.

My great-grandmother was descendant from African slaves that were brought to Brazil during the slave trade. She decided to move to Montreal in the 1950’s and brought her trunk along with her. It was in this trunk that we found letters from my great-grandmother to her sister, who stayed in Brazil. My great-grandmother was Catholic, and extremely religious, so we were quite shocked to discover that her sister had been a Candomble Priestess.

Candomble, also called “dance in honour of the gods,” originated from African religions of the Yoruba, Fon and Bantu regions. However, Candomble also has a strong connection with Catholicism and is considered a syncretic religion because it incorporates various beliefs from different religions, including Islam (http://www.religionfacts.com/candomble). The Candomble worshipers believe that there is one almighty god, named Oludumaré, and various other lesser gods, called Orixas, who act as middlemen between the head god and the people, since people cannot communicate with Oludumaré directly. Each worshiper believes that they have a personal Orixas, who acts as their protector and controls their destiny. This is important since, according to the Candomble beliefs, there is no duality of good and bad; each person must simply fulfil their destiny. However, this is not a carte blanche, any evil you do to another will come back to you eventually.

Believers of Candomble practice their beliefs through dance. These carefully structured dances allow the believer to be possessed by the Orixas. Some of these Orixas’ are ancestor spirits, called Baba Egum, who regulate the community’s moral code through public demonstration during possession. The priests and priestess’s also masquerade as these spirits during important ceremonies.

During the slave trade slave owners and Church leaders felt it imperative to convert the African slaves to Christianity. It was because of this that they outlawed traditional African beliefs, and later Candomble, up until the 1970’s. As a way to keep their traditional beliefs the slaves outwardly practiced Christianity. However, they still met in secret to practice their beliefs and on special religious days. They hid their practices and symbols within the Christian faith, especially in connection with the Christian saints, which resembled their own Orixas. Many people now practice Candomble in the open as a way to reclaim their culture and history (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/candomble/).

This was not so for my great-grandmother’s sister, who had to practice her religion in secret all of her life. It was through her letters that we learned of her struggle and dedication. This was why I was so interested in learning about this part of my family history and following my roots back to Brazil.


Please write us about your personal experiences with following your roots! Looking back at personal history allows a community to better understand their own history as a whole. It is through looking at these individual pieces that we begin to see the entire puzzle.

One such experience will be featured in Semaji every issue. Send any articles to ashlie.bienvenu90@gmail.com. We hope you decide to share your piece of the puzzle with the community. Thank you!


The article was featured in Semaji September 2015. To read the full version Click Here

“The Standing On Their Shoulders project has been a rewarding and eye opening experience. As a minority overseas for much of my upbringing has left me with a desire to connect with black legacies and histories. By participating in this project I have learned a wealth about the rich history of Black folks in Montreal, stories that will leave me inspired for years to come. I greatly enjoyed the opportunity I had to speak with and interview such prominent individuals.”

-Joseph Ariwi


“The “Standing on Their Shoulders” project seeks to uncover black anglophones’ hidden history through storytelling and visuals. It is our way of celebrating our achievements as a people and giving a voice to a community that has been marginalized out of history. We understand that knowledge of self is key to the growth and unity of black youth in Montreal and beyond.”

-Yanissa Grand-Pierre


“We felt that this was an important project to take part in because there isn’t as much recognition for the people who have worked so hard to get Little Burgundy to where it is as there should be. My sister and I chose Jesse Maxwell-Smith because we found that her story was inspiring and that accomplishments like hers are something to strive for. We are extremely thankful that the Standing on Their Shoulders project gave us an opportunity to learn more about our community and someone who helped shape it.”

-Rachel Shelton


“Standing on Their Shoulders is a bridge, in my eyes, to the past in Montreal. They taught me so much about the undiscussed history of Montreal’s Black Community. Without them, I wouldn’t have gained that knowledge and they are a great contribution to the Black Community because of this project that allowed youths to dig into their roots and create something marvellous.”

-Maxwell Step


The article was featured in Semaji December 2015. To read the full version Click Here