February 1st marks the start of Black History Month – a time where we celebrate and honour the achievements, stories, and legacy of Black Canadians. We are invited to learn about the contributions Black Canadians and their communities have made and continue to make within our society.
“Coming from a place where there are many ways in which African culture and festivals are celebrated, it is interesting to know that contributions made by people of African descent are recognized and celebrated in Canada as well.”– Lola Pitan, Talent Specialist, Career Edge
While this is a time of celebration, it is also important for us to acknowledge the barriers that Black Canadians have faced and continue to face within our communities; from anti-Black racism, to hate and discrimination, and daily microaggressions.
As an organization that works within the space of diversity, equity, and inclusion, we recognize that we need to do more to ensure a more equitable, safe, and just future. It is our corporate social responsibility to continue advocating and working towards anti-racism while supporting Black people within our communities; we have donated to Black Lives Matter Toronto and the Loveland Foundation, two organizations focused on demolishing injustice committed against Black Canadians, supporting and healing their communities, and creating opportunities for their growth. We continue to work towards offering equitable and meaningful opportunities for our jobseekers who face barriers in entering the workforce, as well as supporting our interns in ensuring a safe work environment that is free of harassment. But we know that this is not enough and that we still have more work to do.
“For me, Black History is a time to celebrate and promote the achievements of the black community while remembering the struggles black people have been through to get where we are today.”– Tamara Stone, Payroll & Human Resources Coordinator, Career Edge
As fellow leaders, peers, and citizens, we urge you reflect on what you can do, whether within your teams, your organizations, and/or communities, to ensure the voices and stories and perspectives of our fellow Black Canadians are recognized.
“[What does Black History Month mean to me] is a great question and a tough one for me to articulate as I would need to give it considerably more thought; with respect to me, my background/culture, lived experiences from my home country of Trinidad & Tobago (Black History Month is not observed), to those experiences of living in the US and now in Canada. I continue to build my understanding of Black History Month through research and my experience/exposure in the US and now learning about its history and impact in Canada.
“As you may notice, there is a lot for me to unpack in order to form and express my perspective about Black History Month. At minimum, I am grateful for the progress that been made, all while processing the past – not just Black historical past, but the world in which we live as a whole – and how it relates to our present and future.
“Black History Month shouldn’t be treated as though it is somehow separate from our collective American history or somehow just boiled down to a compilation of greatest hits from the March on Washington or from some of our sports heroes…It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America…”Barack Obama at Black History Month Reception, February 18, 2016
“I know my response does not necessarily answer the question of ‘What Black History Month means to me’ (and it was not written with that intent to begin with), but to share my current perspective with you, processing a great question that I have not thought about much before, if at all, and most likely have not been asked before, from my complex vantage point of having lived experience in cultures where the month is both celebrated and not celebrated…
“…my short answer would be “I am not sure yet…but I am definitely thinking about it now!”Kyle Gray, Vice-President, Finance & Operations, Career Edge
Want to read more? Read our blog No Solidarity in Silence, as well as check out some of the resources, videos, and stories complied by the Government of Canada.
Black History Month 2022
Government of Canada
” No matter where you live, we invite all Canadians to learn more about these communities, and how they continue to help shape the story of Canada. “