By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter
As February marks Black History Month, the City of Oshawa is highlighting black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.
Every February, communities across Canada celebrate Black History Month initiatives that honour the legacy of Black Canadians, past and present.
“It is an opportunity to share and learn about the experiences, contributions and achievements of peoples of African ancestry,” states the city.
Mayor Dan Carter says the city has a “long history of being home to families of African ancestry – and a great many have put their hearts into our community through their businesses.”
“These businesses are a great part of Oshawa’s success as they reflect some of the diverse cultural makeup of our great city,” says Carter. “Through these unprecedented difficulties, I urge you to continue to support all local businesses.”
In a video address to the community, Carter says there is zero tolerance when it comes to racism in the city, noting the city has committed to “learn, explore, expand and carry on conversations.”
“But we are also committed in regards to bringing people together to be able to understand what our black community faces on a daily basis,” he adds.
A Community Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee was formed in July 2020 and is made up of 15 community members, including youth, women, seniors, people of diverse ethnic or cultural origin, people with disabilities, people living in poverty, newcomers, faith-based groups and Indigenous peoples.
“It’s our opportunity to be able to hear those stories and not only celebrate successes but also talk about challenges that our black community faces,” Carter continues.
“Let’s have these conversations, let’s talk about racism, let’s talk about how we can have an open dialogue and an open discussion and let us celebrate the contributions of those that have led in our community from the black community.”
As 2021 marks the seventh year of the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), this year’s theme is “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development.”