August 1, is emancipation day, a day when African Canadians along with others of the African diaspora throughout the Americas (including the Caribbean) and Europe, reflect and pay homage to the ancestors who resisted and survived their enslavement as an African people, so that we can be here… so that I can be here.
In the Field
This has been an interesting past few weeks with various polls being released gauging Canadians including immigrants (including refugees) beliefs, feelings and understanding of (im)migration, immigrants as people, ethno-racial make-up of immigration and the changing face of Canada`s ethno-cultural/racial make-up.
Spring seems hesitant to come into its own this year. Or maybe it’s winter holding on stubbornly refusing to recognize that its time has passed - at least for now - but will always come around again. A promise. Similar to the promise that day will always follow night. Why am I waxing poetic? I am searching for hope, digging deep to find my optimism, to remind myself and you (I guess) that the gathering clouds, the political miasma that seems to be settling in will only be for a moment in time.
The space was standing room only as the Toronto Planning Group including OCASI in partnership with the City of Toronto’s Newcomer Office, launched Refugee Rights month. This year marks the thirty-fourth anniversary of the Singh decision. Since my two decades at the Council we have marked this important Supreme Court of Canada decision each year.
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own” and “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” - Audre Lorde
Two quotes from the late prolific writer, lesbian-feminist, social justice warrior, Librarian Audre Lorde. Apt quotes I would say for the political moment in which we find ourselves especially this month as we mark International Women’s Day, a nod to working women although that herstory is often overlooked.
“They Tried to Bury Us/They didn’t know we were seeds” - Mexican saying.
“What did you not do to bury me/But you forgot that I was a seed?” - Greek poet, Dinos Christianopoulous.
Albert Jackson had a new stamp made in his image and released in time for African/Black History month, 2019. Toronto’s, and Canada’s first Black mail carrier, this recognition of the contributions of Black folks to early Toronto, Ontario and Canada’s history is long overdue.
In preparing to write my first blog of the year, the word ‘Hope’ came to me with a feeling of urgency. That this is the message that needs to go out into the sector as we head into 2019 and what could be a most contentious year of political posturing on all sides of the political spectrum; as we as a province and country face the potential loss of ground on progressive policies that we’ve fought for, disappointment in the promises not fulfilled by our elected officials, and a growing feeling of being unsettled within civil society especially in our for public benefit organizations as we are challenged to walk our talk in a time of political uncertainty.
As we wind down the year, it is time to take a step back and reflect on what has been accomplished, what positive change or impact we have had, and how we will appreciate our accomplishments through self-care and organizational care. We do not do enough of this as advocates and practitioners in the public benefit sector. This is as good a time as any to start.
It has been a very busy last few weeks as we prepared for and welcomed over two hundred sector leaders to our biennial Executive leadership conference; and marked forty years of OCASI’s policy advocacy, activism and sector development with a successful gala. It was a time of celebration, of congratulatory remarks, and acknowledgement of the resiliency of the sector and the impact it has had on the lives of tens of thousands of refugees, (im)migrants and Canadians. We laughed, we danced and we debated and we learned.