By: Marieke Walsh in Ottawa, ON

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was repeatedly under attack and on the defensive Wednesday night during a debate on issues facing the black community.

The debate in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood featured all major party leaders except Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford.

Wynne was taken to task for her government’s record on disproportionate numbers of black children facing suspension and expulsion, inequities in the health care system and the persistence of carding by police.

Throughout, the premier stuck to her talking points that the Liberal government has taken these issues “head on” and that “more needs to be done.”

At one point moderator Royson James called Wynne out for her response to systemic racism in the education system.

“You do know that whatever you’re doing isn’t working,” James asked Wynne. And he wondered if the people responsible for the school system understand the “urgency.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Stats show almost half of the black students who graduate high school don’t have the credits and grades needed to go to university and 42 per cent didn’t apply to post secondary school. -Royson James[/quote]

His follow-up was met with laughs and a shout of “clueless” from someone in the crowd of roughly 200 people.

“I get that there’s a huge frustration and I feel that frustration,” Wynne said.

At which point NDP Leader Andrea Horwath broke in with “15 years” — referencing the Liberal’s time in power.

James had previously listed several statistics pointing to the experience of black children in the Toronto District School Board in 2011.

Calling them “crushing statistics” he said the stats show almost half of the black students who graduate high school don’t have the credits and grades needed to go to university and 42 per cent didn’t apply to post secondary school. Moreover he said, of those students that apply, only one in four are accepted.

Of every 100 black students only 69 graduate, James said. Out of that number, he said only 18 end up in university or college.

He said the numbers are “worse” for boys, adding that half of the students expelled from school are black kids. “What do you plan to do about this abject failure of our schools to educate black students,” James asked the three leaders.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the “first thing you have to do is admit that there’s a problem.”

“These stats aren’t new,” Horwath said. “I’d suggest that it’s getting worse and not better.” She said the government should deal with the curriculum in schools and ensure supports are there for students. This online casino prepares plenty of exciting offers and bonuses. But in order to try some online casino games it is better to start with free online slots.

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said the statistics show how much the “status quo is failing our young people.”

Meanwhile, Wynne defended her government’s record on implementing items like the Black Youth Action Plan and the Education Equity Action Plan while agreeing that more needs to be done.

“There is absolutely no doubt that there is more structural change that’s needed,” Wynne said.

Wynne got the loudest applause when she was first introduced at the event but it went downhill from there — she was at times jeered, challenged and interrupted by the crowd.

Speaking to reporters after the debate, she said the issues debated “are not simple” nor “easily dealt with.”

“What I was saying was that we have been tackling them, we have been addressing them and yes there is still more to be done,” Wynne said.

Horwath, who got a warm reception from the crowd by the end of the night, called the debate “very enjoyable.”

The Elephant not in the Room

Ford’s absence wasn’t addressed very much by the leaders during the debate, but was met with boos from the crowd when the event organizers noted his absence.

Speaking to iPolitics afterward, several audience members said his absence would hurt Ford, while another said he would still hear out the ideas put forward from the Progressive Conservatives.

Earlier in the day Wynne issued a letter challenging Ford to three debates, saying he hasn’t yet agreed to a single one ahead of the June election.

Speaking to reporters afterward, Wynne said Ford is “the one person who wouldn’t have agreed with anything that we were saying and he wasn’t there to put his position forward.”

“It is really important that he show up and that he put his opinions forward because people need to understand what that contrast is,” she said.

Ford was in Northern Ontario on a campaign-style tour.

Horwath questioned Ford’s priorities and said the “community was pretty disappointed” by his absence.


Republished under arrangement with iPolitics

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 26 April 2016 01:46

Accents Celebrated at Shakespeare Reading

by Diana Manole in Ottawa 

Four hundred years ago, on April, 23, 1616, William Shakespeare passed away. His plays are so special that today we can critically reflect on any topic when reading, staging, or watching them: social inequality, politics, history, culture, love and death.

The modernization of the English language also started with his work, leading to the current standard version, in England, and the numerous variants spoken all over the world by almost 943 million people.

As the saying goes, “The best reaction to reading a poem is writing a poem.”

George Elliott Clarke, Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate (PPL), along with the Library of Parliament and the League of Canadian Poets, organized a celebration of Shakespeare and National Poetry Month (NPM) through a poetry reading. Shakespeare on the Hill was the first official poetry reading on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, according to Clarke.

He says he plans to organize other similar events on Parliament Hill during his PPL tenure. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“Shakespeare’s English” can be heard in Canada with accents from all over the world.[/quote]

I was honoured to be included among the readers, together with Monty Reid, Amanda Earl and rob mclennan. Our selected readings from Shakespeare and our own work had to relate to this year’s NPM theme, “The Road” – or travelling. 

Clarke is an award-winning Canadian writer, who has published 16 collections of poems, as well as plays, opera librettos and two novels. From Three Miles Plains, N.S., where he was born, Clarke has gone on many roads across Canada, but also around the world.

He emphasized Shakespeare’s influence on his own work. “Reading Titus Andronicus In Three Mile Plains, N.S.” is part of Execution Poems, for which Clarke received the Governor General’s Award. Inspired by Shakespeare’s perspective on crime, this poem denounces both historical violence and the persecution of black people in the 20th century. He writes:

“And History snapped its whip and bankrupted scholars,
School was violent improvement. I opened Shakespeare
And discovered a scarepriest, shaking in violent winds,
Some hallowed, heartless man, his brain boiling blood,
Aaron, seething, demanding: 'Is black so base a hue?'"

Recognizing accented writers

As a Romanian-born poet and a first-generation Canadian, this event had a special significance for me. I dedicated my reading to all “accented” writers from this country and the immigrant voyage to Canada that has changed their destinies. Indeed, my own trip to Canada in 2000 has been one of my most important journeys. 

The first poem I read, “Fleeing. Becoming,” synthesizes the redefinition of my sense of national identity: 

“I became Romanian, fleeing.
I became Canadian when the U.S.
took my fingerprints.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“The [foreign] accent represents the democratization of language.”[/quote]

Aurelia Zmeu, Diplomatic Counsellor at the Romanian Embassy in Ottawa, noted in my reading the ongoing travel between two cultures, which defines any immigrant. 

“Listening to her reading from [Shakespeare’s] The Tempest and from her own work, I perceived the two pans of the balance scale in Diana Manole’s soul,” she said. “The poet’s feelings towards Romania, her country of origin, and Canada, her adoptive country, are placed on this scale, interconnected, in a balance that was perturbed only by the applause at the end.” 

As Clarke emphasized after my reading, “The [foreign] accent represents the democratization of language.”

Indeed, “Shakespeare’s English” can be heard in Canada with accents from all over the world. It is one of the best proofs that people can find means to communicate beyond cultural barriers.

Clarke’s celebration of Shakespeare proved that poetry and politics can sometimes be on the same page – even at Parliament Hill. 

Journeys of all forms 

Earl is a poet, publisher and the author of two books of erotic fiction. 

“The road for me equals time from birth to death and the obstacles along the way, the constancy of love in times of trouble,” she says. 

Her Shakespeare selections reflect on similar experiences, including “Sonnet 116” and, from Hamlet, Gertrude’s description of Ophelia's madness and suicide. Her poem, “O’Keeffe,” deals with the reversed journey from death to life and the effort to understand its meaning:

“I seek answers in myth: Orpheus, 
Persephone, those who’ve been 
to the Underworld and back”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“The road for me equals time from birth to death and the obstacles along the way, the constancy of love in times of trouble.”[/quote]

Born in Saskatchewan, Reid worked for many years in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec, and now lives in Ottawa. He focused on the theme of melancholy travel with Jacques’s monologue from As You Like It.

He also read some of his poems on the same topic, including “Very Soon, and With Someone Pleasant” from Disappointment Island. 

“I don't care where you were. I don't care about the black ice
and the big trucks and all your other travelling anxieties.
Imagine trying to pick up Singapore noodles with a single stick.
That's how it makes me feel." 

mclennan was inducted into the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour in March 2016 and has won numerous awards and published nearly 30 books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. He read “Two ghazals, for newborn,” an homage to the birth of his third child, Aoife: 

“Map: for she articulates
our new, invented landscapes.

A declaration of staccato kicks
and wails.

A salted, sunny membrane
of gestures, squeaks and snorts.

Dr. Diana Manole is a Romanian-born poet, translator, and scholar. She has published nine collections of poems and plays, and contributed to many national and international magazines. Her latest poetry book, B&W was published in 2015 by Tracus Arte in a bilingual edition, co-translated with Adam J. Sorkin.


{module NCM Blurb} 

Published in Books

by Shan Qiao in Toronto 

A campaign to collect books and other resources to enhance educational opportunities for black children in Toronto is gaining support, while the Black Lives Matter Toronto continues to challenge anti-Black racism in the city. 

A book drive took place recently at A Different Booklist, an independent bookstore in Toronto. It encouraged people to purchase books and donate them to Black Lives Matter Freedom School, a summer program focused on teaching black children aged four to 10 about black liberation history. 

“[Children of African descent] do not get exposed enough, if at all, to the history of blacks in Canada or North America and around the world during the regular school year,” said Natasha Henry, an elementary school teacher and author. “The book drive is a way to engage them in their learning, contributing to the community, and really empowering them with knowledge that will help them to continue their education, whether at school or in the community.” 

Movement targets education, police 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“We’re fighting for justice, freedom and dignity for all black people.”[/quote]

LeRoi Newbold, a director of Black Lives Matter Toronto and the organizer of the book drive, said the black community should have control over what black children are learning, independently from school boards. 

“In Toronto, 40 per cent of black children did not graduate from high school,” said Newbold. While that number has decreased recently, black students still experience high suspension rates and low graduation rates. 

“It’s alarming and unacceptable,” said Newbold. “We’re not waiting for that system to change. We’re creating our own schools, our own institutions.” 

Black Lives Matter Toronto is also collecting resources for the school through an online Indiegogo fundraising campaign. To date, the campaign has raised $10,361. 

Not far from the upbeat book drive that had a few dozen people packed into the tiny single-unit bookstore, Black Lives Matter Toronto protested for the seventh day in-a-row outside Toronto Police Service headquarters to draw attention to anti-black racism in the city.

The demonstrations began in part to protest the Special Investigations Unit’s decision not to lay charges against a Toronto officer who fatally shot 45-year-old Sudanese immigrant Andrew Loku. The group also announced a lawsuit against the Toronto Police Service for allegedly raiding and searching the home of Jean Montaque, a black mother, without warrant. 

“We’re fighting for justice, freedom and dignity for all black people, and the right for black people to not experience violence [at] the hands of the police force,” Newbold said of the protest. 

Teaching the history of black activism 

[Block quote: sharing a pioneering black activist’s accomplishments and legacy show how the struggling for freedom has evolved over time.] 

Henry was one of the presenters at the book drive, held on Mar 24. She wrote Firsts and African Diaspora as part a 15-book series on black heritage in Canada and around the world. 

“Often of times, historians are very interested in the past, yet young people will say ‘What does that have to do with us today?’” Henry told the crowd. “So it’s very important that we provide the historical context, but mix it with what is going on today in our communities and around the world.” 

In Firsts, Henry focuses on many “firsts” in the African-Canadian community and other African diaspora communities. The cover features an image of Michaëlle Jean, the first black person to serve as Governor General of Canada. 

“When we’re looking at the markers of ‘the first’ African descent, it gets us to think critically about why some of these ‘firsts’ are just happening in the 21st century, despite the fact that Africans have been in Canada since the 16th century,” Henry said. She described how the stories of “firsts” began a legacy of anti-black racism and how that is manifesting itself today. 

“Whether it is over-policing, police brutality, the unemployment rate of young black people – which is much higher than the general population – student dropout rates… these are all a legacy of how black people have been marginalized,” she says. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“What happens to one group affects all of us in different ways.”[/quote]

Henry read a part from the book about Viola Desmond, who was a black businesswoman born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In the 1940s, Desmond fought for her right to sit on the main floor of a movie theatre after being told it was reserved solely for white patrons. Henry stressed that sharing a pioneering black activist’s accomplishments and legacy show how the struggle for freedom has evolved over time. 

Community’s struggles not isolated 

Another presenter, Nadia Hohn, demonstrated traditional African songs and dances during the book drive. Born to Jamaican parents, she is now an elementary school teacher and author and uses traditional music as a teaching tool for kindergarten children. 

“We want our freedom and to live in dignity,” she sang to the crowd, holding one wrist with the other hand, then taking them apart to demonstrate freedom. 

“There are many different groups in Canada that have experienced different degrees of discrimination,” Hohn said. “What happens to one group affects all of us in different ways. It might not be a direct impact, but it has ripple effects on others.” 

Similarly, improvements in one community also have a positive impact on others, she added.


{module NCM Blurb} 

Published in Books

by John Delva in Montreal

Blacks make up Montreal’s largest visible minority. According to the 2011 census, 147,100 live in the city. Why, then, are there so few in our media?

As far back as the 1930s, black journalists in Montreal have been creating and fighting for space for their voices.

Dorothy Williams, strategic development director at Collective Community Services, a local non-for-profit community organization, traces back to 1934 Montreal’s first newspaper aimed at black readers. The Free Lance, which folded in 1941, was meant "to counter the pervasive negative portrayals of Blacks in their city's media [sic]."

Community newspapers similar to the The Free Lance are still where the black media presence is strongest in the city. In fact, Community Contact, which has been around for more than 20 years, has been home to the first bylines of many reporters who went on to high-profile roles in the news business.

Shelley Walcott is one of them. Some 50 Canadian news organizations had turned her down before CNN came knocking in 1997. During her stint there, which ended in 2003, she was first a video journalist for the network, then a reporter for the children’s show “CNN Student News.”

Initially, she attributed the rejection letters to the province’s political climate, still searing over the 1995 referendum—being part of the province’s anglophone minority felt “like I was on the outside looking in,” she said.

Since 2013, Walcott has been a main anchor at New Hampshire’s WMUR-TV. Experience has deepened her hindsight.

“I’ve been in the business for 20 years and when I see people [coming out journalism school] and how green they are, I understand what an employer is looking for. To be successful at anything, you can’t blame anyone else, because it’s very competitive out there."

Breaking into the business 

It can also be lonely. Shari Okeke, a writer and broadcaster at CBC Montreal’s “Daybreak,” recalls being the only black reporter in the Montreal newsroom when she arrived in 1999. She had reasons to be optimistic, though, she said via email.

"I landed a paid internship … at a newspaper in Ontario straight out of journalism school. After that, I was unemployed for about two months while I searched full-time for a job in television."

That’s when Okeke began at CBC’s national newsroom in Toronto in 1997. As an editorial assistant she was “splitting scripts, delivering scripts and rolling teleprompters,” she said. “Even changing toner in the printer.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"[V]isible minorities need to push harder, do more networking and really advocate for themselves."[/quote]

She became a chase producer four months in. The producer who hired her later revealed how she had stood out.

“He chose me because while working as an EA [editorial assistant] on his show, I paid attention to the program, contributed as much as I could and demonstrated a clear interest in being more than an EA.”

But while making it in journalism is difficult for hopefuls of all backgrounds, those from non-white communities shoulder heavier expectations, said CTV Montreal’s Maya Johnson via email.

“I do think visible minorities need to push harder, do more networking and really advocate for themselves. And once they get their foot in the door and pay their dues, they need to take initiative and ask for advancement opportunities."

Networking is an obstacle Shani O. Hilton, executive editor for news at BuzzFeed, also talked about—namely how many underestimate it.

"Many of us are so busy working twice as hard and hoping to get noticed that we don’t do the networking that seems like bullshit but is actually a key part of career advancement,” she wrote on Medium in March 2014. 

Understanding the Quebecois mentality

But networking does not explain the shortage of blacks in Québec media, said Reginald Rivette. The editor-in-chief of Souche magazine thinks the insular mentality of Quebecois black communities is what restricts their media visibility.

He said media organizations’ disinterest with black communities starts with the latter’s entertainment choices. He explained that while a Denzel Washington or an Oprah may appeal to many demographics in America, this kind of crossover appeal is rare in Québec.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“The idea of ‘multicultural' makes for nice speeches, but it’s a different story in everyday Montreal."[/quote]

This is because second-generation Quebecois blacks favour U.S. celebrities, in addition to stars from their family’s home country—but reject local Québec culture and its celebrities. Rivette said this self-seclusion directly affects who media companies and advertisers covet.

"Québec show business should be bending over backward to sell us products, but if we’re not paying attention to local celebrities, why should they make the effort to reach out?”

He initially targeted a multicultural audience, handpicking Algeria-born Lynda Thalie, who’s based out of Montreal, for the cover of the first issue of Souche. Lack of interest shifted the magazine’s focus to a black-only readership.

“The idea of ‘multicultural' makes for nice speeches, but it’s a different story in everyday Montreal. People from different backgrounds don’t really just come and blend together."

Those who complain about the lack of black representation in the media, he said, should get more involved in local culture. Government grants available to top Québec producers are at every creator’s disposal.

“We can’t ask for the ‘establishment’ to look for us, find us, then give us work as we sit there waiting."

One glance at Johnson’s bio, and you would be hard-pressed using words like “sit" or “waiting.” The recipient of a Canadian Women's Press Club scholarship began at CTV Montreal as an intern in 2005. She was 21. The network hired her in 2012 permanently after close to a decade of freelancing, part-time and substituting work.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Neglecting minority issues comes with serious consequences.[/quote]

Johnson, who begins her job as CTV Montreal's Québec City bureau chief this February, mused that none of this might have happened had CTV not reached out.

"I was hired through a visible minority internship program. There’s no shame in that. The news director and executive producer made it clear to me: I wasn’t there to be a token. They had high expectations."

Shifting the reluctance to publicly address race 

Okeke thinks minority reporters are essential to newsrooms, not just for the stories they can contribute, but what they can contribute to other reporters.

"It's...really important for journalists of colour to share what we're hearing and experiencing in our communities with colleagues in our newsrooms, in order to bring attention to those issues."

Neglecting minority issues comes with serious consequences, she said.

"When people do not feel the media reflects their reality, they can be hesitant to talk to the media at all," said Okeke.

Jean Numa Goudou, editor-in-chief of In Texto, said that ultimately the reluctance to address race publicly falls back on the shoulders of Québec officials. Goudou collided with the race wall first-hand when he asked for numbers related to blacks in the education system. The Québec government referred him to the province’s school boards. They, in turn, ignored his calls. He got an answer after approaching a non-profit organization.

“I was told that the government thinks the Haitian community would be stigmatized if such numbers were released. They do this to be politically correct—but this approach doesn’t help the community,” he said. “The mainstream media has to cover these topics, amongst others, so that people from different races learn more about each other."

Last August, Goudou broke a story on Héma-Québec, the province’s blood services agency, after it began accepting a larger pool of black female donors. The story received no attention in the mainstream media. This disinterest will affect the well-being of all Canadians, including future ones, he said.

“As more immigrants arrive, the public health system has to adapt. Blacks consume media too [and this helps] Héma-Québec to find more donors. This is a public health issue."


This article first appeared on J-Source.ca. Republished with permission.

Published in Arts & Culture

by Susan Korah in Ottawa

To some people, Canada seems like the land of American civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.’s dreams. But a group of race relations activists in Ottawa contend that this belies the truth, and that Canadians need to work harder to make King’s vision a reality in this country. 

Both views were shared at an Ottawa celebration and awards ceremony that a group named DreamKEEPERS organized to mark the 30th anniversary of Martin Luther King Day. 

Originally declared a public holiday in the U.S. in 1986, the same date was chosen by the Canadian organization to honour King’s memory and raise awareness of his message, which was most eloquently articulated in his speech entitled, “I Have a Dream.” 

Recognizing King's values and principles

Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, presented a lifetime achievement award to the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, the 16th Prime Minister of Canada (1979-80), described as a leader in fighting apartheid in South Africa and promoting human rights in Canada and the world. 

Most recently Clark served as an honorary witness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada that reported on residential schools. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The “beloved community,” was [King's] vision of a society based on justice, equal opportunity and love of one’s fellow human beings.[/quote]

Daniel Stringer, a former Canadian diplomat and a founding member of DreamKEEPERS, explained that the tabletop award sandblasted with a glass gold leaf is given annually to an individual who has become a role model in Canada and beyond for embodying King's values and principles. 

These include the promotion of social justice, human rights, racial harmony, spiritual values and the advancement of his dream of the “beloved community.” 

The “beloved community,” an idea that King popularized, was his vision of a society based on justice, equal opportunity and love of one’s fellow human beings, said Stringer.

Community leadership awards were also presented to Larry Hill, former Deputy Police Chief of Ottawa and Désiré Kilolwa. Originally from Congo, Kilolwa works with women and children who are victims of his native country’s brutal civil war.

“[Canada is a] unique country,” Clark said in his acceptance speech. “The tradition of generosity is deep within us.” 

Clark explained that Canada’s very survival depended on all people pulling together.

“Many of us – Black [people], [Jewish people], Vietnamese, Africans – came here as refugees and we are prepared to extend a welcoming hand to others.” 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“In the 1970s, visible minorities were few and far between in Canada, but now they are becoming the majority.”[/quote]

He reminisced about working with past recipients of the same award, including Jean Augustine (first African Canadian woman to be elected to Canada’s House of Commons and the first to serve in the federal cabinet) and Lincoln Alexander (first Black member of the House of Commons and later, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario). 

“In the 1970s, visible minorities were few and far between in Canada, but now they are becoming the majority,” Clark observed. 

Stepping up to fight injustice

Clark acknowledged that further work needs to be done in promoting equality for all of Canada’s diverse peoples. He cited the example of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, founded in response to the Holocaust, which promoted reconciliation and understanding between the two faith communities. 

“Perhaps we need a Council of Christians, Jews and Muslims at this time,” he concluded, making reference to the increase in Canada’s Muslim population with the arrival of Syrian refugees. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][U]nlike the U.S., which is more open about its problem with racism, Canada is in denial.[/quote]

In her keynote speech, Grégoire-Trudeau painted a similar picture of Canada, as a nation that has come a long way in terms of respecting the human rights of its diverse population. 

“The good news is that people in Canada, and indeed the world, are stepping up to fight racial and gender injustice,” she said. 

She pointed to a new generation of young leaders in Canada and the world, who are far more sensitive to past injustices and are prepared to address them. 

“Martin Luther King was an amazing speaker and champion for justice. When he made his “I Have a Dream” speech, the whole world took notice,” she said. 

“If Dr. King were here today, he would be proud of Canada because we haven’t refused entry to refugees whose expression of faith is different from ours,” she observed. 

Canada in 'denial' about racism

As a counterpoint to this image though, Stringer said that Canadian society is often in denial about the racism that occurs here. 

He referred to the recent firebombing of a mosque in Peterborough, Ontario, in the aftermath of the shootings in Paris. 

He said that unlike the U.S., which is more open about its problem with racism, Canada is in denial.

Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey of Ottawa’s Parkdale Baptist Church, who hosted the ceremony, also referred to racist graffiti scribbled on his church and racist threats he had received.  

“It’s important to celebrate what we have achieved, but also important to keep the momentum going and further the work that still needs to be done,” Bailey said. 

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Top Stories
Friday, 30 October 2015 02:08

Carding Ban Clouded By Doubt

by Patrick Hunter in Toronto

It could be resistance or defiance of civilian oversight bodies, or just plain stubbornness. Either way, police organizations have been slow to change their culture around the strongly-opposed practice of carding. However, in Ontario, the provincial government has somewhat taken the matter out of police services' hands.

I say somewhat because there will be an element of distrust from community members that the police service will find a way around the new provisions of the proposed regulations.

The regulations move to take the ability to “randomly and arbitrarily” collect identifying information about citizens away from police officers.

The practice now known as carding, or “street checks” should effectively be prohibited when the regulation comes into force next March.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][T]here will be an element of distrust from community members that the police service will find a way around the new provisions of the proposed regulations.[/quote]

How we got here

The practice is seen as a part of a larger issue of racial profiling by police. As investigations published by the Toronto Star discovered, the majority of subjects stopped and carded by the police are young Black men.

As a result, the Black community has demanded that the practice be stopped because it violates the rights of individuals and serves to criminalize the Black community.

But in one of his last acts leading the Toronto Police Service (TPS), former chief of police, Bill Blair, managed to reverse an accepted Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) policy from 2014 with the help of the newly elected mayor, John Tory. Elements of the original policy would have placed some of the same restrictions on the police that are now found in the recently proposed regulations.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][T]he community hoped that [the new police chief] would bring an understanding of the impact of carding on the Black community and would work to reverse the practice.[/quote]

As Blair, who was recently elected to the House of Commons, was on his way out, the TPSB sought to appoint a new chief, and with two of the leading candidates being Black, the community hoped that whichever one was appointed would bring an understanding of the impact of carding on the Black community and work to reverse the practice.

Instead, the new chief, Mark Saunders, essentially endorsed the practice, saying that it is a useful investigatory tool for the police.

In early June, a group of highly influential individuals, including a former chief justice of Ontario, held a news conference condemning the practice. Around the same time of that momentous event, the mayor backtracked and left the chief dancing on the head of a pin, trying to maintain the practice’s usefulness.

More recently, the chief of the Peel Regional Police, Jennifer Evans, defied her board by saying that street checks will continue.

In stepped the province’s minister of community safety, Yasir Naqvi, who had previously proposed a series of consultations to gather community input on what can be done, with a draft regulation that works to ban ‘carding’.

What the new regulation offers

The regulations being proposed will “(1) Expressly prohibit the random and arbitrary collection of identifying information by police; and (2) Establish clear new rules for voluntary police–public interactions where identifying information is collected.”

To their credit, the regulations go as far as they can to insure against the “arbitrary and random” nature of street checks. Such information can only be gathered if there is a reasonable suspicion of illegal activities.

As Naqvi announced at a news conference, a person's race or the neighbourhood he or she lives in cannot be grounds for officers to stop an individual or record identifying information about them.

In addition, if such information is collected, the officer must provide the individual with a “document” (generally referred to as a receipt) that contains information about the officer, the time and place, and importantly, the reason for the collection of the information.

Of course, there are some exceptions such as an officer working undercover, a routine traffic stop or executing a warrant.

At any rate, the chief must review the information collected within 30 days. Officers who violate the new rules would be subject to a misconduct charge.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Despite Fantino’s denial, the fact remained that the police stopped Black people more often than anyone else, for no reason other than their race.[/quote]

Elements of doubt

In 2002, when the Toronto Star published its investigation into racial profiling by the Toronto police, the then chief, Julian Fantino, and the police association, denied racial profiling existed. It was blamed on “a few bad apples” and renamed “biased policing”.

Despite Fantino’s denial, the fact remained that the police stopped Black people more often than anyone else, for no reason other than their race.

The carding practice can be seen as a “re-branding” or evolution of that racial profiling practice, with the added twist of maintaining a database of young Black men who have had contact with or are “known to” police – regardless of any connection with illegal activity.

While individuals who believe they have been wrongfully stopped and carded will have recourse by filing a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review (OIPRD), there will likely be a sense that the police, given their attachment to the activity, will find a way around the regulations.

It should not come as a shock to anyone that intimidation is part of policing practice, and that often serves as a dissuading factor in lodging complaints.


Patrick Hunter is a communications consultant and a columnist for Share Newspaper. He is a former communications director at the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and has worked in government and the news media.

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Published in Commentary

by Sam Minassie (@SamMinassie) in Mississauga, Ontario

“Soulful.”

“It’s just the truth, it’s one of my favourite plays.”

“I look forward to seeing more from the writer and what he does in the future.”

Those were just a few of the sentiments heard from audience members leaving the showing of Secrets of a Black Boy at the Maja Prentice Theatre in Mississauga, ON Tuesday night.

Six years after its initial debut, Darren Anthony’s hard-hitting comedic drama was still met by positive feedback from the crowd that gathered to watch the first show of a tour that will eventually move on to major American cities like Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

[youtube height="315" width="560"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZqDT7_MsJ4[/youtube]

The play touches on a number of controversial themes that exist within the black community, but are rarely discussed within the public sphere. No topic is off limits as the drama portrays the everyday struggles of what it is like to be a black man within society today.

“We don’t really discuss the hard-hitting issues, issues like suicide, transgender, sexuality,” explains Anthony. “… I wanted to be a voice for the voiceless, [for] my peers, as well as the youth that I work with.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“I find as a black man, we’ve conditioned ourselves to be strong as nails, not have any emotions or talk about our issues and those qualities are very problematic.” - Darren Anthony[/quote]

The plot follows five black men as they reveal intimate accounts of events that have taken place within their lives over one last game of dominoes at their local recreational centre – right before it is scheduled to be torn down. Each of the characters represents a man at a different point in his life, who is going through problems that he has never been able to share with his peers.

Anthony says that this fear of opening up to one another served as a huge motivator behind his desire to be the one to start a dialogue on a lot of the issues covered.

“I find as a black man, we’ve conditioned ourselves to be strong as nails, not have any emotions or talk about our issues and those qualities are very problematic,” he says, adding, “I want to make sure that men seeing this realize that they can articulate their feelings and they can be vulnerable.”

Breaking Out of Society’s 'Sanctions'

The play gives viewers an in-depth look into the mind of a black man through a series of soliloquies, in which characters are able to share their innermost feelings. The pent-up emotion explodes from within the actors on stage as they reveal a side of them that is rarely, if ever, seen.

This was something that clearly resonated with several audience members including Lavelle Adams Grey, a post-secondary student who made the trip from Brampton to see the production.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“[The aspect that] I could relate to most, [would have to have been] trying to adapt to what society makes out of us as being a black man.” - Lavelle Adams Grey[/quote]

“[The aspect that] I could relate to most, [would have to have been] trying to adapt to what society makes out of us as being a black man,” says Grey. “Trying to come up on your own and society putting sanctions on what you can do and trying to break out of that.”

The tension built up during the play’s dramatic scenes eventually eased through comedic interludes that provided a laugh without straying too far from the topics at hand. Edgy one-liners like, “If there wasn’t a black man around, a cop wouldn’t have a job,” kept the mood light during some very pressing discussions.

First-time viewer, Jeleesa Walker, commended the actors and Darren on this, stating, “They connected with the audience and not every movie or play that you see connects with the audience like that. They incorporate the crowd so that keeps your attention and keeps you happy.”

More Storytellers Needed

While Anthony indicates he had several motivators, he credits his older sister, Trey Anthony, as one of his biggest inspirations.

Trey, also a successful playwright, is most notably known as the mastermind behind the award-winning, da Kink in My Hair, which focuses on the difficulties black women must face and has since been remade into a television series. She was the one who initially challenged her brother to write about a lot of these issues from a black male’s perspective – something rarely seen within media outlets. Anthony’s continued appreciation for his sister’s support was put on full display during an emotional embrace following the conclusion of the play.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“I find that when it comes to urban stories, there’s a lot of people who are telling our stories, but they don’t come off as being authentic.” - Darren Anthony[/quote]

Moving forward, Anthony says that in order for more realistic portrayals of black men to become prevalent within the media, more individuals from within these communities must step up as storytellers.  

“I find that when it comes to urban stories, there’s a lot of people who are telling our stories, but they don’t come off as being authentic,” Anthony says. “And I wanted to make sure that I was that individual, being in social work and being a storyteller for so many years, I have some credibility and I know what I am talking about, I’m on the front lines.”

Stage Photo By: Sam Minassie

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Published in Arts & Culture

by Danica Samuel (@danicasamuel) in Toronto

After months of defending carding, Toronto Mayor, John Tory has made a 360, calling for a permanent ban on the practice.

“It is my intention to see carding cancelled permanently and that we start fresh,” Tory told reporters at a news conference on Sunday, changing his position entirely.

Carding allows police officers to stop and question people to gather information — intelligence that is then stored indefinitely in a database. Several community members have criticized the police technique, calling it unfair and discriminatory, particularly towards men of colour.

Carding Injustice

In fact, Knia Singh, law student and President of the Osgoode Society Against Institutional Injustice, defines carding as “arbitrary detention.”

“We get stopped for no reason, carding is the actual gathering of the data and placing it in the database. It relates to our Charter of Rights in Section 9, Canadians are supposed to be free from arbitrary detention, when they stop me and card me for no reason it’s arbitrary.”

Singh is no stranger to the practice of carding and has also been stopped by police on 12 occasions.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“I would at least feel a little bit safer if what they recorded was true. But it’s full of lies.” - Knia Singh[/quote]

In 2013, he brought light to the situation with a friend Chris Williams; they openly shared their file in the Toronto Star series called Known To Police. The series showed that black people are 3.2 times more likely than white people to be stopped and documented by the Toronto force.

[youtube height="315" width="560"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEKsI80Uh_g[/youtube]

Video Source: Toronto Star YouTube Channel

In Singh’s file, he was recorded as having features that didn’t match his description and labeled him as an individual born in Jamaica, although he was born in Canada.

He was also recorded as being investigated for a possible immigration warrant.

Based off his file, Singh’s conclusion is that the process is “highly inaccurate.”

“Even if they think it’s a useful tool, most of [the information] is wrong,” says Singh.

“They can make up anything and write down whatever they want on people and claim it’s police information,” Singh continues. “I would at least feel a little bit safer if what they recorded was true. But it’s full of lies.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]With Mark Saunders – the first black Toronto Police Chief – leading the force, many were under the assumption that carding would finally seek its end earlier this year. Instead, he stood behind the controversial practice.[/quote]

Originally, carding was proposed as a process to help police officers build a connection with their communities in hopes of developing safer environments.

With Mark Saunders – the first black Toronto Police Chief – leading the force, many were under the assumption that carding would finally seek its end earlier this year. Instead, he stood behind the controversial practice.

In a sit-down interview with CBC reporter Dwight Drummond, Saunders said the practice was, “legal, and it does enhance community safety.”

He continued to defend carding by expressing the intelligence gathered helps police with getting insight to the 2,000 gang members in the city.

Singh contends that he didn’t think for a second Saunders would be the face of changing carding.

“Saunders was never about being an independent thinker,” says Singh. “Deputy Peter Sloly was another good candidate, which was a very good choice, but he was more independent in his thought process and wanted to fix the carding problem.”

Better Late Than Never

Tory stated that the carding system had to come to an end.   

“After great personal reflection and many discussions ... I concluded it was time to say, enough. It was time to acknowledge there is no real way to fix a practice, which has come to be regarded as illegitimate, disrespectful and hurtful,” said Tory on the weekend.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“If we stop carding, it gives a signal that racial profiling is not accepted. What’s next is police accountability. Police officers who violate their code of conduct have to be reprimanded and even kicked off the force.” - Knia Singh[/quote]

Singh says that this realization should have come a long time ago for the mayor.

“John Tory heard all of us speak clearly on this issue and how damaging it was to the community and how illegal it was,” Singh explains. “He went ahead with Chief Bill Blair and pushed through a policy that belittled our rights. For me, the only reason he’s doing it now, is because too many people are criticizing him and if they weren’t, he wouldn’t have changed his mind and that’s what’s disturbing. He already knew all the details.” 

Tory alluded to his speaking with journalist/activist Desmond Cole as one of the discussions that prompted his decision. Cole’s article in Toronto Life titled, “The Skin I’m In: I’ve been interrogated by police more than 50 times – all because I’m black,” stirred up a brewing pot within the city that’s never been cooked. 

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

The plot twist in the matter is that carding is not the root of the problem, but simply a tool that implements the real issue of racial profiling.

In 2012, it was noted that Toronto Police stop up to 400,000 people every year during non-criminal encounters, a practice that community activists and social justice lawyers say leads to racist policing.

An idea of receipts was proposed by former Police Chief Bill Blair, a process that asked officers to hand out a record of each carding interaction to the persons involved.

Three years later, no receipts have been issued and citizens are left to wonder what their files hold.

Singh says the whole process doesn’t need to be tightened, nor implemented differently – those in power just need to “get rid of it” completely.

“If we stop carding, it gives a signal that racial profiling is not accepted. What’s next is police accountability,” Singh stresses. “Police officers who violate their code of conduct have to be reprimanded and even kicked off the force. The problem is they’ve never really been disciplined for their actions.”

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Published in Top Stories

In this exclusive sit-down interview with New Canadian Media reporter Abbas Somji, Toronto Mayor John Tory addresses visible minority representation on city council, the carding controversy and improving settlement services. 

(Media Credit: Absolute Mediaworks/Abbas Somji)


by Abbas Somji (@AbbasSomji) in Toronto

John Tory walks into his expansive office, which looks directly out onto Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square. He says visitors (and even media) entering City Hall through the iconic rotunda’s main entrance sometimes look up and spot him through the clear window, hunched over his desk, scanning one of many reports scattered across it.

“They shoot pictures of me in the window and say, ‘Well, there he is. He’s at his desk,’” says Tory, quoting a television broadcaster. “They call it the ‘MayorCam,’” he adds, matter-of-factly.

It’s been half-a-year since Tory took office as Mayor of Toronto.

These days, he says he averages 15-hour days, spent partly at the office, and partly meeting residents, business owners, schools and community groups, all across Toronto – including in so-called “Ford Country”.

“I would think if you put on a map everywhere I’ve been in the six months – first of all, it’d be a lot of dots on the map, but secondly, those dots would be all over the city.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“I know [settlement agencies] have been the subject of debate and sometimes cutbacks,” says Tory, admitting there’s a need for more programs, particularly those that assist new arrivals and their children get acquainted with the school system in Canada.[/quote]

It’s the sort of insight he says he needs in order to learn about the concerns facing Toronto residents, especially in the case of newcomers. Issues surrounding integration often take precedence in these discussions – shoestring budgets mean recent immigrants have fewer resources available in adjusting to life in Canada.

“I know [settlement agencies] have been the subject of debate and sometimes cutbacks,” says Tory, admitting there’s a need for more programs, particularly those that assist new arrivals and their children get acquainted with the school system in Canada.

“People sometimes complain there’s too many of those programs. Wrong. There isn’t enough of that kind of initiative to help people to adjust themselves faster and better.”

Why City Council Doesn’t Look Like the City

There’s also the concern some community-related issues may get overlooked, simply because there isn’t anyone representing those groups in council. Tory is one of 39 White members of Toronto city council. Only six councillors who serve the GTA come from visible minority communities – a poor reflection of the city’s cultural make-up of the city, especially as more than half of its residents were born outside Canada.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][T]he more the city council, the police service, the fire service, the different boards, the business community are representative of the population as a whole, the more legitimate they will be in being able to carry out their responsibilities and the more they will understand themselves about the challenges facing newcomers.”[/quote]

“You can’t just snap your fingers and say, ‘Lo and behold, the city council will look different,’” says Tory, determined to make progress on recruitment efforts.

“We’ve got to encourage more of that to happen because the more the city council, the police service, the fire service, the different boards, the business community are representative of the population as a whole, the more legitimate they will be in being able to carry out their responsibilities and the more they will understand themselves about the challenges facing newcomers.”

Tory says he led and initiated a program called “School for Civics” as part of Civic Action, geared specifically to people from visible minority community groups. The goal was to put them in a room with people from all parties, who could answer questions about what it was like to run a campaign, and to help them get comfortable with the idea of running for public office.

Tory says, “Even people who have been here for generations are afraid of running for office because they think, ‘Well, I don’t know about this,’ and ‘How will I be treated?’ and ‘Where will I get volunteers?’”

He says participants walked away with a fresh take on civic engagement.

“Even that provided a little bit of comfort to people who were feeling a little bit like, ‘I just came here 10 years ago and I really don’t know the political system here very well,’” Tory says.

The Carding Controversy

The mayor’s performance is being scrutinized now more than before, over the way he handles some contentious issues. The subject of “carding” – or random “street checks” police use to collect information about those who are stopped and questioned – has drawn the ire of many a resident, prompting public outcry from a number of visible minority communities.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]I take it as my responsibility, because I always said during the election, [carding] would be a policy that was in need of continuous reform, because as you add more and more people from more and more places and as policing changed over time and you learned more things, that you had to keep reforming it and improving it.”[/quote]

Tory says carding started off as “a well-intentioned policy” to help foster a good relationship between police and communities.

He says he thinks the policy “unintentionally” impacted a disproportionate number of young Black and Brown men, while aiming for it to be “bias-free policing.”

“I accept the fact that a lot of people are dissatisfied, especially in the Black community, with that policy,” says Tory.

“And so, I take it as my responsibility, because I always said during the election, this would be a policy that was in need of continuous reform, because as you add more and more people from more and more places and as policing changed over time and you learned more things, that you had to keep reforming it and improving it.”

Tory says he’s committed to working on the issue with Toronto’s new police chief, Mark Saunders, in coming up with reforms that better serve the community.

Toronto, A Beacon of Hope

Tory is effusive in the role immigrants have played in Toronto’s evolution to what it is today – so much so that he’s dedicated a day in their honour. Festivities for the first-ever “Toronto Newcomer Day” kicked off on May 29 at Nathan Phillips Square, celebrating all that new immigrants have done to enrich the cultural fabric of the city.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“I think it also reminds us that [when] we invite all these newcomers to come – this is an area we haven’t done so well – that we have an obligation to make sure they get better settled here and have easier access.”[/quote]

Tory says Torontonians have a long-standing history of embracing newcomers, an acceptance that dates back to the Underground Railroad, which brought enslaved African-Americans in the U.S. to freedom in Canada, as well as in the 1960s when the country took a strong stance against apartheid in South Africa.

“[Toronto] probably became a beacon of hope for the world,” says Tory. “We learned so much from each other and it brought this vibrancy to the city.”

Still, he insists there’s much work to be done.

“I think it also reminds us that [when] we invite all these newcomers to come – this is an area we haven’t done so well – that we have an obligation to make sure they get better settled here and have easier access,” says Tory.

“I think we owe it to people to do a better job than we have been doing at that.”


 

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Published in Politics

by Eternity Martis (@iratemixedchick) in Toronto

While Caribbean, black and ethnic media as a whole may never be mainstream, they offer a fundamental contribution to racial discussions in Canada by bringing together communities, tying Canada to other countries and establishing a minority voice on a visible platform.

Over the last few months here are just a few of the headlines Caribbean media outlets broke in Canada, that went under reported by the larger outlets.

Caribbean Immigrants Most Affected by New Canadian Citizenship Changes

According to CICS News, new data shows that changes in the citizenship process have caused a drop in the number of immigrants wanting to be citizens.

In 2008, only 26 per cent of permanent residents in Canada received citizenship. That is down from 44 per cent in 2007, and 79 per cent from 2000.

The decline is attributed to the harsher rules and fees established in 2010. The score to pass a citizenship test has increased from 60 per cent to 75 per cent (or 15 out of 20 multiple-choice questions).

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has also raised the citizenship application fee to $530 per adult, more than five times the cost in 2013.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The extra financial hurdle of the citizenship application fee may also deter certain groups of applicants more than others.[/quote]

What is most shocking is the ethnic breakdown of the test’s pass rates before and after the reform. While those from South Asian, Southern and East African communities all experienced a decline of more than 15 per cent, immigrants from the Caribbean had their pass rate go down by almost 20 per cent.

Andrew Griffith, former citizenship director-general who retired in 2013, found these trends through extensive research. While he does not give a reason why Caribbean immigrants experience less of a pass rate than other immigrants, he says education and income levels often determine who passes.

The extra financial hurdle of the citizenship application fee may also deter certain groups of applicants more than others.

Town Hall Meetings in Toronto Tackle Community Issues

According to Share News, the Jamaican Canadian Association, the Black Action Defence Committee and the Jamaican Diaspora Canada Foundation have organized three town halls to discuss and work on community issues, education, unification of African and Caribbean communities and policing.

The meetings were held at the Jamaican Canadian Association in Toronto. The first meeting in January brought a smaller number; however, the following month drew in over 200 people. By the last meeting in March, fewer seats were filled.

Regardless, over a dozen community groups have signed up to partake in the town hall’s coalition group for future changes in the Black community, and activists and various members of African and Caribbean communities in the city have come together to help create solutions.

The town halls also featured discussion on the disproportionate number of Black people in Ontario public service sectors; violence and murder among young Black men and the impact on families; the lack of employment opportunities; and subsequent government policies that don’t reflect the experiences of Black communities.

Diabetes Expo Targets Caribbean-Canadians

Research on diabetes has shown many Caribbean-Canadians are diabetic, or are prone to developing the disease in their lifetime.

In order to raise awareness of diabetes in the Caribbean community, the Canadian Diabetes Association and its Caribbean Chapter hostedtheir sixth annual Black Diabetes Expo on April 25 at the Jamaican Canadian Association in Toronto.

This year’s theme was high blood pressure and its relation to diabetes. Dr. George Dresser, a clinical pharmacologist at Western University, delivered the keynote speech, “Taking control of your blood pressure will control your diabetes management.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The study found that diabetes is the leading cause of death amongst Caribbean-Canadians.[/quote]

Partners of the Expo included the Caribbean Camera, Rogers TV, and TAIBU Community Health Centre.

In addition to the research done on Caribbean-Canadians and diabetes, CERIS, an Ontario research group, conducted a study in 2013 on a group of Torontonians, both Black Caribbean and Canadian-born.

The study found that diabetes is the leading cause of death amongst Caribbean-Canadians. The study also revealed that Black Caribbeans were better at maintaining their physical health.

Black Canadians (and Caribbeans) You Should Know

Just because Black History Month has passed doesn’t mean we have to stop learning. A recent Share article by Murphy Browne titled “Blacks must learn about their history before enslavement” highlighted the importance of understanding African history – not in relation to slavery, but to the culture, progress and celebration of all Africans.

While Browne alludes to several well-known Black historical figures, as well as facts about African history, across the globe, he makes note that there is not much information available on the Caribbean community.

Here is a list of several Caribbean men and women that have contributed to Canadian history:

Lincoln Alexander (pictured above): Child of a Jamaican mother and St. Vincent father, Alexander was a politician and statesman who served as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons, the federal Minister of Labour and the 24th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

Dudley Laws: A Jamaican-born Canadian civil rights activist and executive director of the Black Action Defence Committee.

Charles Roach: A Trinidadian-born Canadian civil rights lawyer and activist in Toronto.

Sherona Hall: A Jamaican-born Canadian Black feminist, activist, youth advocate and political figure.

Lennox Farrell: A Trinidadian-born community activist, retired Toronto teacher and head of the Caribbean Cultural Committee.

Herbert Carnegie: Born in Toronto to Jamaican parents, Carnegie was a Canadian hockey player who played despite racial discrimination. He founded Future Aces, one of Canada’s first hockey schools.

Calvin Ruck: Born in Nova Scotia to Barbadian parents, Ruck was an anti-racism activist and Canadian senator.

Stanley G. Grizzle: Born in Toronto to Jamaican parents, Grizzle was a citizenship judge and labour union activist.

Leonard Braithwaite: Lawyer and Liberal politician in Ontario, who served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Bromley Armstrong: A Jamaican-born civil rights leader who played a prominent role in Canada’s civil rights movement upon his arrival in 1947.

Commentary: Can Ethnic Media Ever be Mainstream Media?

Last month, Premier Kathleen Wynne (pictured to right, credit: Share News) spoke in Mississauga about the importance of ethnic media in Canada. Wynne addressed the ethnic media organizations present, saying, “The stories that you tell and the work that you do are absolutely vital to shaping the society we all take enormous pride in today.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Ethnic media has the simple key element that mainstream media doesn’t: the “ethnic” perspective. [/quote]

This discussion is both timely and fundamental to journalism surrounding Caribbean culture, and Black communities as a whole.

Ethnic media has the simple key element that mainstream media doesn’t: the “ethnic” perspective. These outlets can report from a position of personal experience and compassion, and are more likely to understand the complexity of stories on race. They ask the questions that mainstream journalists often overlook: What's beneath the surface? How do we cover race issue fairly?

Take for example the Ferguson protests – often poorly covered by Canadian mainstream media, painting protesters as violent, looting animals and anti-white racists, while Caribbean media has helped shine light on the reality.

Or the fact that in mainstream news outlets immigrant success stories are saved for weekend features, while Caribbean media frequently congratulates members of the community.

Caribbean media outlets take what little importance Caribbean issues may have in larger media outlets and place them at the forefront, making them a necessity, rather than a token issue.

That is, of course, if they follow independent reporting standards, and not the models set out in mainstream media.


Eternity Martis is a Master of Journalism student at Ryerson University. She currently writes for The Huffington Post and Bustle. Her work has also been featured on Salon.com, xoJane and Vice Canada with a focus on race and gender issues.

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Published in Caribbean
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New Canadian Media provides nonpartisan news and views representing all Canadian immigrant communities. As part of this endeavour, we re-publish aggregated content from various ethnic media publishers in Canada in an effort to raise the profile of news and commentary from an immigrant perspective. New Canadian Media, however, does not guarantee the accuracy of or endorse the views and opinions contained in content from such other sites. The views expressed on this site are those of the individual writers and commentators, and not necessarily those of New Canadian Media. Copyright © 2019 All rights reserved