Mr. Speaker, Black History Month is a time to reflect on our country’s story and renew our engagement toward anti-Black racism. Black enslavement was widespread in colonial Canada until 1834. A century later, the residents of Africville, Nova Scotia, were denied services for decades before being forcibly removed from their homes, with their community demolished.
Systemic racism continues to be entrenched in our institutions to this day. These truths are painful and difficult to grapple with, and their harmful effects have been passed down for generations, but acknowledging the harm done and taking collective actions are the only ways to steer our country toward a just society.
This year’s theme for Black History Month is “Ours to Tell”. To me, this speaks to the importance of elevating and celebrating Black voices in our conversations about race, history and justice.
I am leaving members with the words of Thandiwe McCarthy, a Black Changemaker in my community and the former poet laureate for Fredericton, who has this call to action:
Activism is a career choice.
A lifestyle. A best friend.
It is the dream and the reality.
It is both a beginning and endless
You’ll have nothing useful to progress
Yet everything essential to build
So wrap yourself tightly around.
The darkness you want to change.
And when you activate who you are.
You’ll find your sunlight.