NDP Leader Jack Layton on Black History Month
By Samuel Getachew
Sway asked Canada’s political leaders to weigh in on the importance of Black History Month. The first in a series begins with NDP Leader Jack Layton:
What does Black History mean to you?
Black History Month is a wonderful opportunity for Canadians across the country to celebrate the history and accomplishments of the members of the Black community in our country and around the world. This is also an occasion to thank the African-Canadian community for the vital contributions they’ve made to improve Canadian society for everyone.
As we honour and salute the role the community has played in Canada, it is important to recognize that there is a long road ahead before we can truly claim victory over racism and discrimination. It is the duty of every Canadian to promote fairness and unity for all. One of the ways we can break down barriers and work together is by learning more about one other and the history we all share.
During this month, I urge all Canadians to participate in community activities and to learn more about the rich history of Black people in Canada.”
Do you have a Black hero that you try to emulate in your journey as a public servant?
I have many heroes, but one I consider near the top of my list is Rosemary Brown – Canada’s first Black woman elected to in the BC legislature. She also became the first Black woman to run for the leadership of our party – the New Democratic Party of Canada. I take great pride in the fact that she was a pioneer in her community and a pioneer in our party.
What has been the highlight of your career especially as an advocate for diversity?
During Black History Month, I’m reflecting on the work I have done with the communities. One of the highlights in my political career was forming a coalition working group with police officers and young Jamaican youth over three decades ago to combat racism. I believe in reaching out and finding suitable solutions.