Could you tell me about your childhood? Where were, you born? Is there anything about your childhood that stands out for you? Helped form who you are today? Your parents, friends, school?
Born in Haiti but having moved to Montreal at 6 months old, I am the eldest of a family of 5 girls. Financial and adaptation difficulties for our mother lead to us moving much in the US & Canada. Taking on the responsibility of looking after my younger sisters and other important responsibilities from a young age, helped me mature into a woman of character and leadership along a sense of consciousness and hoping to inspire others.
Did you face any significant challenges growing up? If so how did you overcome them?
Facing significant challenges growing up, I emphasized on overcoming by relying on my choices as of association, but as well in respect to the circumstances I dealt with, to keep faith, work hard & stay positive as I kept showing a will to learn in humility for personal growth with a community sense.
What is your educational background?
I have an educational background in International Business, however, I believe that my most important education came from the school of life.
You own your business where you work as a recruitment specialist. Can you describe your day-to-day operations? Who are your clients?
I help run a Woman owned and Diversity Staffing Company which specialises in Finance, IT and Call Center in North America. My day-to-day responsibility is to assist our clients with their recruiting and staffing needs. I’m responsible for the day-to- day operation of the business, supervising the staff while identifying key growth areas and developing new business aligned with the company’s growth strategy.
You are currently Co-Chair of the Community and Police Action Committee (COMPAC). What is the mandate of this committee and what is your role as Co-Chair?
The Community and Police Action Committee (COMPAC) is a city-wide community-police advisory and coordinating body representing an equal partnership between the Police, racialized, and Aboriginal communities in the City of Ottawa. Through this committee the community has a voice at the table when it comes to raising concerns about community policing issues. My role has community co-chair is to presides over regular COMPAC meetings. Ensure that all activities and relevant decisions of COMPAC are in accordance with the COMPAC Terms of Reference. Oversee the development and completion of the various projects to be undertaken by COMPAC and act as spokespersons for COMPAC, where required.
What challenges has COMPAC faced in the past few years? How have they resolved them? I am thinking, for example, of the recent tragic death of Abdulrahman Abdi, following a confrontation with the Ottawa Police?
COMPAC has had its challenges over the past few years, particularly last year when a black man (Abdirahman Abdi) died during his interaction with an Ottawa Police officers. Since, COMPAC has worked extremely hard to address community concerns and affect change by providing advise and recommendations to help find solutions to community policing issues. For example, COMPAC held several meetings following the death of Abdirahman Abdi, including one with Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi. COMPAC members did outreach to communities impacted by the death of Abdirahman Abdi. COMPAC participated in consultations with the Honorable Judge Justice Tulloch’s Independent Police Oversight Review team. COMPAC contributed to the revision of the Ontario Police Services Act. We have spoken in media on issues arising from the decision of the SIU to lay charges in the death of Abdirahman Abdi and demanded systemic change from the Ottawa Police Service. COMPAC hosted the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in Ottawa, one of the first events of this kind in this city and COMPAC first public event in several years, the event received wide media coverage in English and French and was attended by over 120 community members from diverse backgrounds. In short, we’ve been extremely busy during the past few months.
There are some people in the Black community who regard COMPAC as simply a mouthpiece of the Ottawa Police Service, with no meaningful power or influence on the standards and practices of policing in Ottawa. How do you respond to this perception?
The perception of the ineffectiveness as lack of power and influence of COMPAC is very relative but greatly dependent on the community’s involvement. COMPAC may have not been useful to the community over the previous years and I hope to change that reality during my term as Co-Chair.
Yes there have been issues in terms of power and influences of COMPAC since its start in a logic of communication of issues and power dynamic with between community and police, yet as proven since summer 2016 unfortunate death by police of the Black man Abdirahman Abdi, the SIU visit to Ottawa in February 2017 (hosted by COMPAC) and specially the charges notably of manslaughter on officer Montsion, community involvement in being present at COMPAC meetings, speaking up, as well medias presence just as last summer Black lives matter, are among tools to permit COMPAC to be visible, active and a force for change. Let’s not forget the action committee begins with the word community, thus the importance for them to be involved for the changes they want to see occurring as this is their city and as taxpayers it is to them that police must answer. Imagine if all COMPAC meetings were full of members of visible minorities? That’s where it starts with accurate information and visible democratic force just as lobby to impact policies.
There is sometimes a perception that there is a big divide between Black francophone and Anglophone people on the one hand. On the other hand, there is also a feeling that there is a big divide between people from the Caribbean and those from continental Africa. Do you agree with these views? If so, how can they be resolved so there can be more collaboration between the different segments of Ottawa’s Black community?
Unfortunately, there is indeed such a divide between Francophones and Anglophones Blacks that occurs from colonization as France and Latin nations directly administered their colonies unlike England’s indirect rule. This transfers into development but as well notably some priorities as intellectualism and etiquette among francophones vs business sense and effectiveness among Anglophones.
Regarding Caribbean and African natives that is the separation from slavery and White supremacy brainwashing Blacks that the descendants of slaves are fortunate to have escaped African wars, diseases and famines which are clichés said and repeated by Whites but as well far too many Blacks in a backward and false view of White supremacy. At the same time Africans, have been indoctrinated to view as inferiors the descendants of slavery as their ancestors were the defeated, weak and captured ones as African natives just Anglophone and francophone Blacks must truly awaken to the reality that is systemic racism benefitting solely White supremacy through divide and conquer since ages ago and perpetuating White privilege.
Whatever their background, truth of the matter is simply that we are Black and be it looking at Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr as slave descendants or Patrice Lumumba and Thomas Sankara just as Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere as african natives, ultimately White supremacy views us first and foremost as only Blacks and that identity mist be our uniting front to force change not just in the system but within ourselves and for the next generation of Black children.
As the South African leader Steve Biko, killed in apartheid police, said: the greatest weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. And as such as Malcolm X said, the fate and dignity of the Black individual in the Americas and worldwide is related to Africa just as the fate and dignity of Africa is related to every Black person worldwide.
Do you have any hobbies or pastimes?
I enjoy reading a good book or watching documentaries. I also like socializing enjoying a glass of red wine with my husband or some of my friends.
What has been your biggest achievement and what was your biggest challenge? In your work, family life, social life, other?
My biggest achievement has been giving birth to my two healthy and beautiful children. My biggest challenge is to inspire to be a dedicated and loving mother and wife while continuing to fulfill my personal ambitions and inspirations.
If you had to live your life all over again, is there anything you would do differently?
No, nothing at all
Finally, do you have a message for readers of Black Ottawa Scene?
My final message to the readers of Black Ottawa Scene would be to remember that there is no other life better than your own… There is beauty in the struggle… ugliness in the success. We should all remember that there can’t be a foreground without a background. Be happy with who you are.