BY SYLVIA JONES, MPP CALEDON / DUFFERIN
The month of February is Black History Month: an important opportunity to celebrate Black culture and mark the significant contributions made by Black Ontarians to the success of our province and our country. It also provides a time to shine a light on injustices in our past and present.
Last year we welcomed a new community website: Dufferin County Canadian Black Association, whose mission includes a platform to provide leadership for the continued development and enhancement of the Black community through civic engagement, education, programs and services and to advocate for equity and wellbeing for the Black community in Dufferin County.
This is a valued resource for many individuals and families who are watching our communities grow. DCCBA has already hosted virtual events and has a number of events lined up that focuses on outreach, education and leadership. On Feb. 20, DCCBA is partnering with the Museum of Dufferin (MoD) to host an online panel that will discuss opportunities for our community to come together as a unified force, and what this means for our future. I look forward to join the panel for this discussion. Find out more information and get the link to the live stream by visiting dufferinmuseum.co m/event/bhp.
The Peel Art Gallery and Museum Archive (PAMA) is featuring two events and virtual exhibits celebrating Black History Month. Our Voice, Our Journeys on Feb. 20 includes the story of how the North Peel Community Church settled in the Town of Caledon. On Feb. 25, PAMA’s discussion topic includes Caribbean Connections: The Black Atlantic stories – linking Canada to the Caribbean and the Caribbean to the world. To view these events, go to pama.peelregion.ca.
These local events bring meaning, insight and education to our community’s past, present and future. We may not be able to gather this year to celebrate Black History Month, but we can join these virtual events to discuss our collective history, examine racism, and find opportunities and solutions based on the experiences of Ontarians. Ontario is committed to addressing anti-Black racism and working towards eliminating systemic racism that affects Black, Indigenous and all racialized people. Our goal is to make sure that opportunities are available to everyone – creating a healthier society, a stronger economy, and a better Ontario for all.
Solutions to address racism and rid our province of hate are needed urgently, but these solutions will not come from government alone. To that end, we are actively engaging with community partners to create effective solutions. For example, through Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate, we are launching a brand-new Anti-Racism and Anti-Hate grant program, to be designed collaboratively with community partners to ensure we advance the most effective solutions in the fight against racism and hate.
This new grant program, which will provide $1.6 million in total funding, will be accessible to communities throughout Ontario and provide investments to community-based projects. We have also partnered with Civic Action in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to work with civic leaders in the development of a collaborative digital resource which will help to assist employers in building workplaces for everyone.
As a government, supporting the excellence that exists within communities starts with investing in the next generation of Black leaders and professionals. That is why our government is working to remove social and economic barriers to success for Black youth by establishing the Premier’s Council of Equality of Opportunity, doubling our investment in the Black Youth Action Plan, and addressing racism and inequity in the classroom through our Education Equity Strategy.
By empowering Black youth, we can ensure they play a prominent role in shaping a better future for our province. Real change takes long-term, committed action. There’s still much work to be done, but our joint efforts are building a brighter, better Ontario. If you are interested in getting involved locally, contact your municipality and ask about its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. For more information regarding Ontario’s work to support racialized communities, visit my website at sylviajonesmpp.ca or call 1-800-265-1603.