Richard Sharpe named Anti-Racism Director

Richard Sharpe

2 November 2020

Black Ottawa Scene is thrilled to report that iconic community leader and advocate, Richard Sharpe, has been appointed Director of the Racial Equality, Anti-racism, Diversity and Inclusion at the Department of Justice Canada.

Below is a message from Richard himself.

Greetings,

As many of you know, tomorrow, I start my new role as Director of the Racial Equality, Anti-racism, Diversity and Inclusion at the Department of Justice Canada. I will be stepping back from the community space in order to devote my energy to this new challenge.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank those of you who have worked with me over these past two years while I was on an assignment in community. A special appreciation goes to the Dream Legacy Foundation that allowed me the space to do my thing. This opportunity has been the most rewarding and impactful of my working career. I was blessed to have worked alongside regional and national stakeholders as well as a strong Federal Black Employee Caucus (FBEC) team of committed federal public service employees from several departments and agencies.

During the last 2 1/2 years, and along with co-founder Robin Browne the 613/819 Black Hub has engaged local communities, community organizations, municipal and provincial governments on the important issues of education, policing, and health of Black citizens in Ottawa. I was part of a community delegation that was instrumental in recruiting the first Black Director of Education for the Ottawa Carleton District School Board. Along with Ewart Walters and Abdirizak Karod I was part of the elder group that recruited Ottawa’s first Black Police Chief. I am happy to continue to serve as a member of a group of trusted community voices of Black leaders to help address injustices and inequities in the education system, policing and the health care sectors.

I am happy to have been part of the conceptualization of the anti-racism secretariat in Ottawa and to provide initial support to Councilor Rawlson King in securing both community and City Council support for this initiative.

I have supported community and municipal health centers in addressing the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on Black and racialized communities. This included advising on the collection of disaggregated data that will be used to implement strategies and approaches for successfully supporting these affected communities. It has been a pleasure working with Ottawa Local Immigration partnership (OLIP), the AIDS Committee of Ottawa and many other groups.

I am proud of the work undertaken by the United National Decade for People of African Descent (UNDPAD) Push Coalition with national Black community organizations in securing government support for Capacity Building funding and the creation of the Canadian Institute for People of African Descent (CIPAD). Our role in Economic Inclusion initiatives will support economic development for Black and racialized communities for generations. It has been a rewarding experience to work with Andrea Pierce, Floydeen Charles-Fridal and Sylvia Parris to achieve these results. This work still requires community push and I call on our partners to continue to engage with the government to ensure the gains we have made are not lost. See what we have accomplished on our UNDPAD website is here: https://www.undpadpush.com/

I am pleased to have had the opportunity to make several national online audiences on the UN International Decade for People of African Descent and anti-black racism following the traumatic murder of George Floyd. Dr. Vibe and Sarah Onyango have helped us look like stars.

The successes of FBEC during my time with the team are too numerous to chronicle in one email. Suffice it to say, we led engagements with senior federal officials and departmental representatives on the key components of an anti-racism action plan to be launched enterprise-wide in the coming weeks. We engaged with federal unions to address the anti-black racism in bargaining agent representation of our colleagues. We are pleased to have received commitments from national union presidents to address change through training and other measures that are now rolling out across their organizations. We are proud to have contributed to the Deputy Minister’s Diversity and Inclusion commitments, which are the strongest ever defined by the Clerk of the Privy Council’s Office. Along with the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) we co-produced a record-breaking event (12,000 + attendance) on anti-black racism and allyship that has served as a defining marker of success, quality and reach. The ongoing engagements with the CSPS has been instrumental in educating senior leadership all the way to rank and file employees on the importance of this Black Lives Matter moment in history, allyship and in developing curriculum that includes the Black experience. The work that we undertook internally to government improves policies and services directed to Black communities in our Canadian society. The systemic change we strived to make within institutions across all levels of government has resulted in significant gains for our communities. I am perhaps most happy about the thousands of Black people who have found a safe haven in FBEC and drawing on the strength drawn from our brand of collective leadership to press for change through Black employee networks in their own departments. Black Inclusion is real. See FBEC resources and information here: https://fbec-cefn.ca/

We could not have accomplished these many results without your support and concrete engagement as Black communities, allies and stakeholders. Our communities are indebted to your collective contributions to these results. There are dozens of names I could drop but you know who you are.

In my new capacity, I will be working both internally within Justice and interdepartmentally with similar secretariats and task forces to advance diversity and inclusion for all groups across federal departments and agencies. I have a particular interest in applying a Black and indigenous lens to federal justice reform to improve outcomes for our peoples in this country. 

It has been a pleasure working with you in this role. I look forward to the next chapter. Robin Browne and Lyse-Pascale Inamuco will be your 613/819 Black Hub Contacts moving forward. Community notifications will be coordinated by Robin. Check out our website at: https://613819blackhubnoir.ca/en/

Thanks again. It really feels like we changed the world during my time in the community. I look forward to the next chapter.

Richard Sharpe

Tel: 613-889-8140

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