As we roll into February, we should by all measures be gearing up for Black History Month, commemorating the contribution of peoples of African descent to Canada’s diverse mosaic. Our celebrations are however tempered by the sad news of the passing of John Dennison, one of the leading lights of Ottawa’s Black community, coming so soon after the passing of the great civil rights and anti-apartheid fighter Nelson Mandela. John was the quintessence of the community builder, mentor and adviser who led by example. As the pastor intoned at his funeral service at the Christ Church Cathedral on 19 January, John “not only let his own light shine but helped others make their lights shine”. For this and more reasons than can be contained in this letter, this edition of Black Ottawa Scene is dedicated to him, with a photo gallery chronicling John’s life journey over the years.
Apart from our somber reflection on John’s exemplary life, I am excited by the other features of the February edition. First off we have our interview with Bishop Jacob Afolabi, a humble man of God whose voice is highly respected beyond our community. As the coordinator of the International Pastors and Leadership Forum, his message of community service and engagement with Ottawa’s diverse racial and ethnic society, resonates with all who want to succeed in this great country. We also feature the first of a series of guest columns, with Sudanese-born Ottawa U. Professor, Awad Ibrahim with an incisive article on race relations and racial profiling. Just as exciting is the Dreamkeepers’ Lifetime Achievement award to former Governor-General Michaelle Jean. The Somali community continues to impress with innovative programs, this time with a community forum, organised by Team Awakening, a group of professionals and young persons working together to tackle the myths and stigma of mental illness.
Finally, a gentle reminder to keep the letters to the editor coming. Your feedback assists us in making Ottawa’s only Black news magazine a pleasurable read. Enjoy!