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Black History Month underway

Members of the Afiwi Groove School perform during a celebration launch of Black History Month held at Durham Region headquarters.

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

A representative of the Canadian-Jamaican community says the Durham Regional Police Service, and in particular, Chief Paul Martin, should be commended for making “their actions speak louder than words.”

These thoughts were shared by Omar Wisdom, president of the Canadian Jamaican Club of Oshawa, during a celebration launch of Black History Month at regional headquarters on Jan. 28. The event was co-hosted by the club, DRPS and the Region of Durham.

Wisdom stated in the past there was public concern about the lack of black officers in senior positions with the DRPS, and these concerns were made clear to Martin.

He says the chief committed to addressing the issue, and in Wisdom’s view, took steps to act upon that promise.

Wisdom observed that these officers were “well deserving” of promotions not because of the colour of their skin but for the skills they demonstrate as law enforcement officers, and he is hopeful they will have a “highly visible” profile in the community moving forward.

Addressing those in attendance at the celebration launch, Wisdom called for better representation of black history in education curriculum and implored them to speak up in opposition to those who “question or diminish black history”.

“We have raised an entire generation that believes people of African descent were only slaves,” he said.

Granville Anderson, Liberal MPP for Durham, who was born in Jamaica and moved to Canada as a youth, says he feels fortunate to live in “one of the most diverse, accommodating and tolerant nations” in the world.

However, he too noted as he was growing up, there wasn’t a proper representation of black history in the provincial education curriculum.

“I just didn’t know,” he stated.

To Anderson, Black History Month is a reminder of the contributions Canadians of African ancestry “have made and continue to make”, and it is not just “Black history” but Canada’s history.

Whitby Regional Councillor Derek Gleed, speaking on behalf of Regional Chair Roger Anderson, noted citizens of African heritage played a “fundamental role in creating the values and fabrics of our communities.”

The event also featured the raising of the Pan-African flag and performances of the Canadian and Black national anthems by The Femme Tones from Pickering High School.