Wendell Nii Laryea Adjetey, Assistant Professor, Department of History and Classical Studies at McGill
“History is power. History is self-determination. Those who have power to exercise self-determination have power to control the writing and promotion of their history. Therefore, celebrating Black history and Black History Month is more than a perfunctory exercise that acknowledges Black people throughout the African Diaspora and Africa. Teaching, researching, and promoting the history of a globally subordinated and subjugated racial group is an innocuous yet profoundly revolutionary act of self-determination.”
February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the rich legacies and enormous contributions of Black Canadians. See below for a series of events and resources to help you participate in Black History Month, 2022. The theme this year
PSAC National website, Jan 28, 2022
Black History Month is a time to honour and celebrate Black people’s past and present accomplishments, their contributions to Canadian society, and their ongoing struggle for equity. This is a time to reflect on the strength and resiliency of people of African and Caribbean descent in Canada, while committing to fight against systemic discrimination and racism in our communities. Read more
“History of anti-Black Racism in Canadian Schools and Universities” with Dr. June Francis. Saturday, Feb 5th 1:30 – 3:00 pm PT Livestream
Dr. June Francis, Director, Institute for Diaspora Research & Engagement at SFU and a Director of Hogan’s Alley Society. Dr. Francis will address, discuss, and answer questions on the “History of anti-Black Racism in Canadian Schools and Universities – the significance of the Scarborough Charter for addressing anti-Black racism in Canadian institutions of higher education.”
This talk will explore the ways in which the history of Canadian educational institutions have contributed to persistent and contemporary anti-black racism in the educational system.
Read more and register for this webinar
In May of 2021, PSAC hosted an online webinar on understanding systemic racism in the labour movement. Presented as a panel discussion facilitated by PSAC-NCR Regional Executive Vice-President Alex Silas, Émilie Nicolas and Eagleclaw Thom, the webinar helps us understand systemic racism by focusing on the question of white privilege:
- What is white privilege?
- How does white privilege contribute to systemic racism in the labour movement?
- What are actions union members and workers can take to identify and challenge white privilege in the labour movement?
Peggy McIntosh, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
Jeremy Dowsett, What riding my bike has taught me about white privilege
There has been a dramatic increase in blatant anti-Asian racism since the spread of COVID-19. Over the last several months, that racism has escalated to frequent and shocking acts of violence against members of the Asian and Pacific Island Communities around the world. Recent attacks include violent elder assaults, racially motivated acts of vandalism and violence, and the senseless murder of six women of Asian descent in Atlanta Georgia.
Yukon Employees' Union stands shoulder to shoulder with members of the AAPI communities in Canada and beyond. Hate has no place in this country.
The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation was co-founded in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi in response to the acquittal in the US of the man who shot Trayvon Martin has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, citing the movement's global impact in raising awareness and consciousness of racial injustice.
Kamala Harris, Vice-President of the United States makes history as the first woman, and the first woman of colour elected to the office. Her election comes at a time of great turmoil in the world, as right-wing nationalism surges and white supremacy comes out of the shadows. In response to 2020's emboldened violence and state-sanctioned racism, highlighted by the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, global Black Lives Matter protests and rallies brought millions into the streets. An increased awareness of the systemic nature of racism, discussions of white privilege and a rejection of the ongoing injustices took hold in white consciousness like never before.
Canada has a history of racism, slavery, and oppression of Black people - and while the comfortable white narrative says that we are a respectful multi-cultural society, Black people in Canada continue to overcome systemic racism and profiling. Addressing unconscious bias and recognizing white privilege is a part of the anti-racism action we can take on as individuals, standing as anti-racists to confront racism where it hides.
Black History Month is an opportunity for all Canadians to learn about the many contributions that Black Canadians and their communities have made and continue to make to this country. This year’s theme for Black History Month is “The Future is Now”, a call to action for us all to build on the legacy of those who came before us, and to recognize the transformative work that Black Canadians and their communities are doing now.
Black History Resources and links:
- 365 Days and Ways to Celebrate Remarkable Black Canadians an Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario resource
- 28 Black Picture Books that aren’t about Boycotts, Buses or Basketball
- African-American- Zinn Education Project. Teaching Activity PDF by Bill Bigelow. Six pages. A lesson on the countless colonial laws enacted to create division and inequality based on race. This helps students understand the origins of racism in the US and who benefits.
- Black History Canada
- Black History Month. ed elect; educational web resources
- Black Lives Canada Syllabus
- Black Strathcona: Ten videos with a study guide that brings alive Vancouver's first and only black neighbourhood from the early 1900s-1960s.
- The Book of Negroes. mini series and teachers guide.
- The Harriet Tubman Institute
- Historica Canada. The contribution of black soldiers in the War of 1812
- Films about the Black community in Canada
- Happening Yesterday, Happened Tomorrow: Teaching the ongoing murders of black men
- On Rosa Parks’ 100th Birthday, Recalling Her Rebellious Life Before and After the Montgomery Bus
- Poems that explore the black experience in America
- Recommended reads from the Canadian Children's Book Centre
- Sankofa Black History Collection. Resources for Grade 4-8. A literary resource representing the African Canadian experience.
- Teaching African-Canadian History
- The Urban Alliance on Race Relations
We've had some pretty incredible feedback on our recent anti-racism articles, posts, and graphics. Most of it has been thoughtful, reflective, and appreciative. Unfortunately, we've had a few people crawl out from where they've been hiding to tell us that we ought to shut up and stop wasting their union dues on such activities.
We have a response to those people, and we invite you to read today's blog post about our stance on anti-racism.
This union will always challenge racist policies, beliefs, actions and systems. We guarantee that in the same way we guarantee we will fight policies, beliefs, actions and systems that oppress anyone - whether it's a unionized worker in the Yukon or an impoverished coffee farmer in Guatemala.
We fight racism because we are hard-wired to challenge systemic inequities. And no, we will not be posting an equal number of opposing views to balance things out or to ease the discomfort of those who don't believe they're racist, but clearly are.
Yukon Employees' Union takes a stand against racism in our communities and in our workplaces. We work to foster spaces where everyone is equal, where racism is not tolerated, where diversity is celebrated and where there are opportunities to learn and grow.
Systemic racism exists in Canada, shaping the lives of our members and their families. Black, Indigenous and People of Colour are affected every day by "a system of power that seeks to benefit white people above all others", as defined by activist and author Desmond Cole,
Right now in Nova Scotia, the treaty rights of the Mi'kmaq are being challenged by Acadian commercial fish harvesters coming from communities around southwestern Nova Scotia. These non-indigenous harvesters are outraged that indigenous fishers are dropping their lobster traps out of season, despite the treaty rights guaranteeing the Mi'kmaq the right to catch and sell lobsters and manage their fishery.
Facing our own internal and unconscious bias can be difficult, but without a willingness to learn, to feel the discomfort and to look critically at our privilege, we perpetuate the racism that's embedded in our country's very existence.
The task of confronting racism head-on is overdue, and it's something that will take effort and time. We have as much to UN-learn as we have to learn. Together, we can do this important work.
Learn more about Mi'kmaq rights, what is taking place in Nova Scotia and find out how to help at the following links.
Ways to Support Mi'kmaq Asserting Their Treaty Rights in Digby, Nova Scotia (unceded Mi'kma'ki)
Unraveling the Interplay Between Diversity and Race in the Canadian Experience
LECTURE VIDEO – https://youtu.be/ijL_391Xw9g
National Film Board of Canada
A series of videos and documentaries on anti-racism
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,Peggy McIntosh
"I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was meant to remain oblivious.
White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, code books, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks.For me white privilege has turned out to be an elusive and fugitive subject. The pressure to avoid it is great, for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy. If these things are true, this is not such a free country: one's life is not what one makes of it; many doors open for certain people through no virtues of their own."
Guide to Allyship, A Lamont
Being an ally is hard work. Many would-be allies fear making mistakes that could have them labeled as “-ist” or “-ic” (racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, etc). But as an ally, you’re also affected by a system of oppression. This means that as an ally, there is much to unlearn and learn—mistakes are expected. You need to own this as fact and should be willing to embrace the daily work of doing better.
As an ally, you need to own your mistakes and be proactive in your education, every day.
Indigenous Ally Toolkit, Montreal Indigenous Community Network
Ally, Accomplice, Co-Resistor. Being involved in any kind of anti-oppression work is a way of being and doing, of self-reflection, checking your motivations and continual learning. The Indigenous Ally Toolkit prepared by the Montreal Indigenous Community Network is a good resource.
Decolonize First; A liberating guide and workbook for peeling back the layers of neocolonialism by Nahanee Creative
The Skin We're In, Desmond Cole
Yes, Canada Has a Racism Crisis and It’s Killing Black and Indigenous Peoples, Pam Palmater
Red Man Laughing
RED MAN LAUGHING - LIVE IN WHITEHORSE, YT Recorded live at the Yukon Arts Centre.
Sandy & Nora Talk Politics
Nora Loreto and Sandy Hudson discuss complex issues facing our society and work through how we can approach solving them. Popular episodes include defunding the police, the Land Defenders at Wet’suwet’en and Justin Trudeau’s use of Blackface.
Indian and Cowboy - Indigenous Media Network.
The premiere Indigenous podcast network, offering Indigenous arts and culture coverage, new music and Indigenous thought and opinion writing.
Note: The content linked below is kid-friendly, but like any discussion of difficult subjects a trusted adult should be available to help answer any questions that may arise.
Where can I learn more about Indigenous people in Canada?
What Canadian Kids Should Know About Black Lives Matter
Want to be a non-appropriative ally?
How White People can Advocate for the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Listen to this recent NPR interview with Dr. Uzodinma Iweala, medical doctor, author and CEO of The Africa Center- a culture & policy institute in New York City.