Stachen Naomi Frederick
Photo source: Toronto Public Library
by Stachen Frederick
From December 4 – December 6th , the Michaelle Jean Foundation and its partners hosted the National Black Summit bringing approximately 400 people to Toronto. With a number of break out sessions, I wish I could have attended all. Of interest to me was Democratic Engagement, Access to Justice, Media Representation and Health. It was great hearing of the strides made by our community in overcoming various challenges across Canada. The summit planners had spent a considerable amount of time even before the summit; listening to communities all across Canada and using data from different sources including the Black Experience Project to create a list to put together a Draft Action Plan. You can take a read here:
These are really not new things but have been talked about for a long time by the civically engaged. What I did like is that it provided some benchmarks and some timelines. It allows for us therefore to see the impact of our work in the community.
So, at best, it provided an opportunity to network, learn, grow and strategize and at its worst, a recurring phenomenon of engaging Black people in conversation and then nothing happens. But I am hopeful that given the credibility of the lead organizations, partners and individuals involved, that some progress can be made for the Black Community. As Justice Donald McLeod said at the summit : “Nothing for us. Without us”.
And of course, it was wonderful seeing my Ottawa Trailblazers- Sarah Onyango, June Girvan, Eldon Holder Sr and Junior and many more and meeting new ones. Ottawa SHOWED up.
About the writer
Stachen Frederick is the Executive Director of Weston Frontlines Centre, a youth charity in one of the poorest ridings in Ontario and has over 15 years’ international and Canadian experience in community and program development. In 2008, she founded BrAIDS for AIDS, a not-for-profit foundation that raises awareness of HIV/AIDS in African, Caribbean and Black communities in Canada and internationally through hair braiding. The organization also funds relevant causes in the fight against the disease. Her work has been recognized by Black History Ottawa, the High Commission of Trinidad and Tobago and YMCA Canada. In 2017, she was featured as one of the top 150 Black women across Canada by CBC . She also received a Legacy Award by the Black Health Alliance. She looks forward 2018 with more accolades and advocating for better social outcomes for the Black Community.