February is Black History Month here in Canada as well as in the US. It’s the month set aside to learn about and acknowledge the contributions that Black individuals and their communities have made to fabric of our nation.
In Canada, this year’s theme is “The Future is Now”. The Government of Canada describes it as “a call to action for all of us to build on the legacy of those who came before us, and to recognize the transformative work that Black Canadians and their communities are doing now.”
Meanwhile in Canada
We Canadians often boast a holier than thou mindset when speaking of racial injustice in comparison to our neighbours to the south. But our historical treatment of people of colour, our Indigenous peoples and others in the BIPOC community is not something we should be proud of. Our media and education system don’t give adequate attention to the injustices. In November 2018 the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal reported that “a Black person in Toronto was 20 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a fatal shooting by the Toronto Police Service”. Also that “despite making up only 8.8% of Toronto’s population … Black people were over-represented in use of force cases (28.8%), shootings (36%), deadly encounters (61.5%) and fatal shootings (70%)”. Anti-Blackness isn’t in our past; it’s in our present.
There are a LOT of resources available to education yourself about the positive impact of Black Canadians on our history. Also detailing their continued struggle for healing, equity and justice. Take some time; do some reading. I know I will be. I am committing to action. I’ll be mindful of how I spend my money, where I shop and where I eat. I will use my voice.
This Black History Month
Today more than ever, it’s not enough to just acknowledge this month. We need to focus continued action and attention to effect permanent change. I know I’ve made mistakes in the past. But I will take responsibility for the impact of my privilege and doing better today and in the future.