Again, The CACD Black History Month celebration on Tuesday, February 27, 2018, with the Theme: “TOGETHER WE RISE” was a stunning success. The celebration began at 4 p.m. with high school students attending a presentation on Black Canadian History by a renowned black history teacher, Mr. Rainford Cornish. At this session, the emphasis was on Black Canadians – Past and Present with a focus on the struggles of Black Boys and dropping out of school. This was followed up at 5 p.m. when the Lobby at the Valleys, was electrified with samples of Bob Marley’s music by Wes McKenzie on guitar and Hurban Johnson on steel pan. Then at 6:00 p.m. it was the main event. This segment of the celebration showcased speakers; such as Cllr. Ron Starr, MPP Dipika Damerla, Nene Kwasi Kafele, Consul General of Jamaica, Lloyd Wilks, Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Keynote speaker, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Mitzie Hunter.

Introduction and opening remarks were provided by Executive Director, Ron Cunningham, and Prayer was given by Deputy Chair, Wes McKenzie. All concerned were stirred, inspired, motivated and excited by the passion of the speakers and the level of the entertainment provided by the CACD Youth Dance Group, The Hub Break Dancing group, Poetry Recital by Nadine Williams, songs and drumming by Wes McKenzie and Hurban Johnson, dance performance by the Chinese Qipao Society – Mississauga Chapter, which were quite moving or as suggested by attendees, “Awesome” and “Amazing”.

In keeping with the spirit of the Theme of the event, here are a few excerpts from the many inspirational and motivational speeches:

Nene Kwasi Kafele stated that “We have to clearly name anti-Black racism and continue to address it at every turn- structurally, culturally, socially and economically. We must be careful about being hoodwinked and distracted by the soothing but misleading narrative of “multiculturalism” when many in our community continue to suffer the ravages of poverty and unemployment, police brutality and violence, and racism in school, child welfare and social marginalization. We have excellent, inspiring, shining examples of how to succeed and thrive”.

Lloyd Wilks, the Consul General of Jamaica, said; ‘Black history is Canadian history and all nationalities living in Canada should be encouraged to celebrate with us. As Jamaica’s motto says, out of many one people which are effectively reflected in Canada’s full embrace of diversity as a major strength.”

The Minister of Advanced Education and Skills development, Hon. Mitzie Hunter started out her presentation by saying, “It was such a pleasure to attend the Citizens for the Advancement of Community Development’s Black History Month event. Black History Month is so important because it provides us with an opportunity to tell the stories of Black Canadians, and to recognize the heroes who helped build the inclusive Ontario we live in. I often think about my childhood in Jamaica, and how my family’s immigration to Canada has shaped the person I am today. As Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, I also think about the Black students and youth who are looking for leaders and role models in their community. This month is a chance to highlight those leaders, because Black Canadians have been shaping this province and country from the very beginning and deserve to be celebrated. I want to thank CACD for supporting these youth and their families year-round. Together, we can build an Ontario that is more fair, equal and filled with opportunity.”

She made reference to the Declaration by the UN of the International Decade for People of African Descent and its adaptation by the Canadian Government and for us to participate fully to achieve change. She encouraged us a community, as Citizens of Mississauga, to fully participate and choose to go together as the theme of the event suggests, “Together We Rise”. She says “if we want to go quickly, we should go alone but if we want to go far, we need to go together”. In addition, she exhorted the young people “that they are valued, they are valuable, that we should support them and that they will succeed”.

Special thanks must be extended to RBC Foundation, Mississauga Valley Community Centre, Mississauga News, Charlie’s Caribbean Cuisine, Sunrise Caribbean Restaurant (Rockwood Mall), Boston Pizza (Square One), and Metro (Mississauga Valley Blvd), without which the event would not be the success it was.

Pic of the Main Event - CACD BHM Feb 28, 2018Ron with MPP Damerla at CACD BHN Event February 2018Malak, MPP Dipika Damerla and Malak's Mom