The Canadian Caucus of Black Parliamentarians held the 2017 African-Canadian Government Leaders Network Summit on August 20th to August 22nd.
For the first time in the nation’s capital, the third annual summit, organized by Greg Fergus, M.P. for Hull Aylmer and President of the Federal Black Caucus, along with the participation of provincial ministers and Canadian parliamentarians, brought Black leaders together to discuss issues that various Black communities across Canada face today.
Fergus said, "This summit is an opportunity to discuss and hear different political actors from the Canadian Black community speaks about the issues they face."
Throughout the summit’s discussions, key Black politicians spoke about the success of the past year and challenges they faced in 2017 and brought forward suggestions that would lead to prosperity for the Black communities in the future.
Amongst these politicians was Michael Couteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services and the Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism (Ontario) who asserted the importance of these discussions. He said, “This summit is a unique opportunity for Black leaders from across the country to gather and discuss priority issues, such as enhancing the health and education outcomes for Black Canadians, the administration of justice and racial bias.”
Also in attendance were Emanuel Dubourg, Member of Parliament for Bourassa,Frank Baylis, Member of Parliament for Pierrefonds - Dollard, Marc Miller, Member of Parliament for Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs, Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Member of Parliament for Whitby, Senators Anne Cools, Wanda Elaine Thomas Bernard and Marie-Françoise Mégie of Quebec, and Granville Anderson, MPP for Durham.
Four key issues were tabled during the summit: the efforts to adopt the United Nations’ Decade for People of African Descent; the social justice and economic impacts of the proposed cannabis policy on Black communities across Canada; the need for more comprehensive disaggregated data at all levels of government; and the importance of seeking allies and intersectionalities in order to advance the interest of African-Caribbean communities in Canada.
Mitzie Hunter, MPP, Scarborough Guildwood and Ontario’s Minister of Education, noted that she was particularly impressed with the organization’s focus on addressing racism and inequality at various levels of government. “I am pleased to see the work we are doing collectively to address issues of equity and anti-Black racism with federal and provincial colleagues,” she said.`
The Caucus of Black Parliamentarians has already begun planning for the 4th annual summit, which will be hosted in Nova Scotia next year. “I look forward to continuing to work toward these goals and continue the conversations as hosts, here in Nova Scotia, in 2018, said Tony Ince, Minister of Public Service Commission and African Nova Scotian Affairs.
By shedding light on the initiatives of the country’s Black communities, the summit participants hope to inspire other minority communities in Canada to meet and engage in meaningful discussions around the issues they face.