National Black summit targets federal legislators


Former Governor-General Michael Jean welcomes participants to the summit   Photo copyright Black Ottawa Scene

Saturday 2 February & Sunday 3 February, 2019
Over 400 predominately Black men, women and teens from across Canada: Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, and as far away as Vancouver, were at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa to participate in a unique 2-day conference organised by the Federation of Black Canadians.  VIPS in attendance included former Governor-General Michaëlle Jean; Senator Marie-Francoise Megie; Senator Kim Pate; Ottawa’s Deputy Mayor, Laura Dudas; and June Girvan, Acting President Black History Ottawa, a major sponsor and host of the summit. Co-MC’s for the event were CTV Ottawa News anchor Stephan Keyes and community activist Barbara Laurenstin.
The theme for the summit: 4 Days, 4 Nights: Mapping our future – Face to Face with our Law-makers, was a reflection of the Federation’s determination to bring to the attention of federal legislators issues such as Black alienation and anti-Black racism. “This is our time, we have to take advantage,” said Dahabo Ahmed-Omer, Communications and Stakeholder Relations Lead,  Steering Committee of the Federation of Black Canadians, which helped to sponsor the weekend event with the Michaëlle Jean Foundation. “We want to make Black Canada an unavoidable fixture in future political debates”.

Among the items the Federation intends to push with legislators, are better funding and new laws to promote anti-racism training, black-owned businesses and innovation hubs and employment equity. The summit’s multi-year plan also urges participates to focus politicians’ attention on the disproportionate number of blacks in jail and to encourage media to downplay negative stereotypes. In short, the summit is giving signs of becoming a catalyst for what could become a much stronger political movement.

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