Could you tell me about your childhood? Where were you born? Is there anything about your childhood that stands out for you?
I was born in Yarmouth Nova Scotia in1949. However, I was raised in Halifax. My childhood was much like most. We moved a couple of times in the same neighbourhood. There was not the drugs of today other than alcohol. There we male role models and my father worked on the railroad. To this day riding the train brings me great joy. During my teen years I learned boxing. There is a great deal of black history in Nova Scotia. Along with the history was the conflict that takes place to this day.
Was there any person or persons that influenced your childhood the most?
Other than family and community, black males such as Rock Jones, my high school teacher Gus Wedderburn, Basketball coach, Jess Dillard, and assorted boxing coaches no others stands out. I became a Halifax City police officer in 1969 and an inspector had an influence on my life. His name was Leo Storm. In 1973 Taylor Gordon came to Nova Scotia and organized amateur boxing. He was instrumental in me winning the Canadian amateur Boxing Championship, heavy weight division, 1975.
You served as a police officer for several years. What made you choose policing as a career?
In 1973 the American Black Panther Party came to Nova Scotia to support and enlist the help of the black community. This was an extension of turbulent sixties. I was just finishing high school and was hired as summer student with the Halifax Police department in 1968 and hired as a police officer in 1969. Policing had a degree of prestige, no lay-offs or strikes, and I viewed it as a helping profession. The job was for me.
You started your career with the provincial police in Nova Scotia before moving to the RCMP. Did you notice any similarities and differences in the culture and work environment in both organizations?
It was not provincial but city policing. In city policing there is no transfer around the country. The advantage is that you get to know the community and the community knows you. There are a number of fields that can be applied for. In the RCMP there a lot more fields of work, more opportunities for transfers, and working I rural areas are possible.
Racial profiling within the police is a topic that frequently comes up, especially in regard to Canadians of African descent. What is your take on this sensitive issue?
Looking at Canada’s black population, there seems to be a divide between African and Caribbean communities on the one hand, and Anglophone and francophone communities on the other. Do you agree with this perspective and if so what can be done to remedy this divide?
There are nine major areas of people activity that we work through on a daily basis. They are economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex, and war. Racial conflict takes place in all those areas of people activity. For example; eleven o’clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated time in North America. Hispanics, black, and white people for the most part are in separate places of worship. In my opinion racial conflict will always raise its ugly head. Canada is no exception in the past or future.
Over the years, have you seen any change in the status of the black population in Canada? Are we any better off now than say, ten or fifteen years ago?
I am 7th generation black Canadian from Nova Scotia. Therefore me and others like Canadian are a product of and influenced by American culture. I would say things are worse for the black masses. Other black Canadian cultures may have a different opinion.
Looking at the Black population in Canada, what do you see as our greatest challenges and how do we resolve them? What are our strengths?
I would say that our greatest accomplishment is surviving and in some cases thriving in the face of racist behaviour. Racist behaviour is established, maintained, advanced, and refined. Once the action is taken we end up playing defence/offence. We as black people have put ourselves in a position where we are in a offence/defence situation in the nine major areas of people activity.
Finally, do you have a message for readers of Black Ottawa Scene?
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