As we wind down the celebrations for Black History Month in February, we have to remain mindful of the theme for 2014: “Our Canadian story: making our voices heard.” We can make our voices heard by participating in consultations on issues that affect our daily lives, be it light rail, changes in immigration law, electoral procedures, income tax, whatever. Send letters to the editor of your local newspaper, to your member of parliament or councillor, and let them know your views and concerns. And be sure to vote during elections, be it municipal, provincial or federal. Recent statistics suggest that African Canadians have one of the lowest participation rates in elections. We need to change that depressing statistic and fast! Yes and run for elective office; we need to have people who look like us at the various levels of government. No need to complain about about what ails you; if you want change, get involved! It is time for us to take ownership of the challenges and problems that confront us daily. If we don’t speak for ourselves, no one else will! And remember, the message for Black History Month is not just for the month of February, but year round. We are Black all day, every day from January to December!
As I pen their letter to our readers, my heart is heavy with grief over the loss of yet another of our illustrious African Canadians in the national capital. Criminologist Dr. Julius Uzoaba who retired three years ago from the Solicitor General’s office, was a tireless fighter for equity and fairness in the public service, often at risk of his own career. His passing in mid February has left a hole in the hearts and minds of those whose lives he had touched. Black Ottawa Scene plans to have a photo gallery of his life and legacy in a later edition.
For the March edition, we have garnered an exciting array of goodies for our readers. We feature the various Black History Month events, starting with the launch on February 1 at the Library and Archives Canada, pivotal events like the African and Caribbean and Black health forum; Reconciliation Day honouring Nelson Mandela and First Nations chief, Elder William Commanda, Somali Hope Academy gala, and culminating in the very successful Black History Month gala hosted by Yomi and Kelly Pratt. And how’s this for a first? North Dundas celebrated its very first Black History Month in style with a concert and song writing workshop by music icon Dan Hill. There is an also incisive interview with Sherwyn Solomon, principal of Ridgemont High School, with his interesting insights into the state of education and the performance of black students in Canada. Of great interest to our readers, is his perspective on Toronto’s controversial “Afri-centric” school. Our guest column continues with an interesting take on gender roles by Regius Brown. We also continue our recognition of people making a difference to our community with a profile on community activist, Denise Siele. There is all that and more in this edition.