This nation sets Black women on fire.
They do it for the common offence of demanding the freedom to live an autonomous existence. Born into a world that questions their right to unshackle themselves after the indignities of transatlantic slavery. Dragged across an ocean. Falling asleep to a lullaby of lapping waves and human sorrow. Landfall in a place as remote and foreign as it was cold and unwelcoming. Marie-Joseph Angelique is sold to a merchant’s family in Montreal to make a home more livable for them.
In Can You Hear Me Now?, former Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes changes the conversation, stripping the label of MP and revealing the woman of the before and after. The memoir fills in the blank spaces and reveals that Caesar-Chavannes has always been fearless, stoic and bold in her actions. At every stage in her life, she seemingly broke through, balancing the pressure of her family, culture, and her gender’s high expectations with steely precision. Yet, the book can be described as a transitory note to the next moment in her life.
Celina Caesar-Chavannes does things on her terms. After seeing a pamphlet encouraging women to run federally she did--and as a rookie politician beat a long-time Conserative candidate. Starting in 2015, she served the riding of Whitby, Ontario in the House of Commons but chose not to seek re-election in 2019. During her tenure, the former Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister spoke out several times about her experiences of anti-black racism as a Member of Parliament. I caught up with her just after she was named one of Chatelaine Magazine’s Women Of The Year and before she hopped on a plane for a planned family vacation to her native Grenada.