Richard Sharpe

Moksha’s Ottawa Police Service Board Debut – Part 1

by Richard Sharpe

Moksha informed me in August of 2022 that she had agreed to make a presentation on behalf of a local activist on defunding the Ottawa Police Services to the Ottawa Police Services Board (OPSB). I cautioned that I did not believe she would be well received. From my perspective, the body that contributed to previous winter’s ousting of the first Black Police Chief in our city, was not the kind of space for her to cut her activist teeth. However, she insisted on doing it “for the experience”, so I took time off work to accompany her.

Moksha Sharpe

On September 26, 2022, we arrived in the room that just two years previous saw delegations from dozens of community organizations, but now was reduced to this one young Black woman. As expected, shortly after Moksha began her remarks the chair of the OPSB attempted to shut her down by falsely stating she could not name people who had made public statements about their positions with respect to funding the police. Moksha did not know that there was no such policy. As this clip shows the chair states that the OPSB did not want to hear what Moksha had to say. It took everything in my power not to go down beside her to assist at that moment. Every parent’s nightmare is to see our children in danger, either physically, psychologically or spiritually. But her words to me in at the beginning of the meeting, “I got this.” were still ringing in my ears.

I let things unfold. During the delegation, her pauses were excruciating as she reformulated her prepared notes on the fly to accommodate the chair’s intervention. She made her points. There were no questions from anyone on the OPSB and we both immediately left the space.  

Outside the chamber, I asked Moksha if she was OK after the experience. She flashed her million dollar smile and said, “I was scared during the presentation but I’ll be back to do it again”. For Moksha, to go into a room of mostly white bureaucrats, political staff and men with guns, to speak on such an unpopular position (in that space) took more courage than I would have had at her age. I don’t believe in foisting the responsibility of changing the world on our children. But I do feel the future is bright when youth develop the skills to overcome the challenges and obstacles that our systems put in their path. Although I still fear for her safety in this society, on this day I was just a proud papa.

Editor: Click on the link below for the video of the event: #Blackyouthfutures #proudpapa #blackinclusion


Social justice advocate, Richard Sharpe, is the Director of the Black Equity Branch, Centre for People, Culture and Talent, Treasury Board Secretariat of the Ontario Public Service.