A tribute to the late Owen (Sankara) Leach (August 16, 1936 – February 3, 2022)


By Lennox Farrell

Owen Leach

Dear Heart, if you’ve ever considered doing something selfless and communal, do it! And in the memory of our dearly departed, African Canadian stalwart, Hubert Owen Leach.

Born August 16, 1936 in Barbados, he died – at the age of 85 – in Toronto, Ontario, February 3, 2022, at the start of this year’s Black History Month.

Among other things, Owen had been a student-at-Constitutional Law at the University of Birmingham, UK, and travelled to the Soviet Union. He also ran for political office as Alderman Ward 2, Toronto.

A founding member of our iconic Black Action Defence Committee (BADC) in 1988, Owen was also an active member of the Organisation of Parents of Black Children (OPBC), the Caribbean Cultural Committee (CCC-Caribana) and a founding organizer of the anti-apartheid movement in Toronto.

Above all, there was his family: children, Marlon and Fayola Leach; grand-children Rizon and Asher Leach. His sister, Marjorie Leach.

Owen also did cherish, among other music, Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”.

Owen Leach

Also, and a bit more specific, Owen was present along with other community organizers at Queens’ Park (1989) when, in response to the then anti-Black actions of the Metro police, the Black Action Defense Committee through its leadership (Dudley, Akua, Margaret, Clem, Cikiah, Akila etc.) established with the then Premier of Ontario, David Peterson, civilian oversight of police in Ontario, a global first in Canada, and also in the former British Empire.

Owen’s steadfast character is also cemented, for example, in his additional chosen name, ‘Brother Sankara’, thereby ‘honouring the memory of the first African president of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara (1983-1987), assassinated by mercenaries who were opposed to an independent Africa.

Owen was loyal, astute, scholarly; a community-based, family-builder. And a fighter, as cheerful as he was fearless against injustice, for community, for the oppressed.

Finally, to you, Hubert Owen ‘Sankara’ Leach, our dearly departed brother, as surpassing as you’ve been in all undertakings, ‘selfless and communal’, so too do we, dear hearts in your community also grieve your passing: “R.I.P!”

For funeral arrangements, please visit the New Haven Funeral Centre’s website at www.newhavenfuneralcentre.com.