The Canadian Negro Women’s Association introduced the celebration of Black History month in the 1950’s to Toronto. The House of commons declared February as the national Black history month in December 1995 under the leadership of the Honorable Jean Augustine (the First Black Woman elected at the House of Commons).
Black History month celebrates the rich contribution of Canadians of African and Caribbean descent as well as their multiple struggles for social justice and equity across the country. During the month of February, Canadians of African descent reflect on issues related to racism, discrimination, and the impact on their communities, but also on their contribution as Canadian citizens.
The FUTURE IS NOW is the theme that Heritage Canada has chosen for 2021. This theme is timely, as we find ourselves both in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and the International Decade for People of African descent (2015-2025) proclaimed by the United Nations. Black Canadians continue to experience systemic racism, language barriers, poverty and more. Looking at the pre-existing inequities and disparities, it is easy to imagine how these communities have been disproportionately affected by the current Covid-19. The cities of Toronto and Montreal have been impacted most by the pandemic. They unfortunately are also home to the highest populations of Black people (Canadians and immigrants). Despite the fact that Black people make up only 9% of Toronto’s population, 21% of reported cases of hospitalized Covid-19 patients were Black. A significant number of the Black community’s health care professionals and health service providers have also been affected. In addition, the economic impact has severely weakened most Black owned businesses.
The FUTURE IS NOW is a call for Canadians of African descent to bridge the gaps and embrace their destiny to improve the well-being of their communities here in Canada and abroad. The time is NOW for Canada to acknowledge and recognise the men and women of the diaspora as key partners and stakeholders in the advancement of its ODA (official development assistance) and the achievement of its sustainable development goals, currently being jeopardised by the negative impact of the pandemic in all sectors.
In this historical month of February, the African Renaissance and Diaspora Network (ARDN) in collaboration with the African Sustainable Development Advisors, Inc. [Afrisda, Inc.], Africans in Partnership Against AIDS (APAA) and the LuvBay Afrobeat Music/Talk Radio will organise a 2-hour virtual event (Webinar/Zoom) on Thursday, February the 25th at 1:00 PM Eastern time/6:00 PM GMT.
During this event, Canadians of African descent and community members will have a conversation on issues that matter to their communities, and advocate for culturally relevant sustainable solutions that will improve their health and wellbeing as Canadians.