By Lincoln DePradine
Two of Canada’s leading agencies serving Black community members infected and affected by AIDS and HIV have been praised for the care they show to clients, as well as for their activism and advocacy.
Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black CAP) and the African and Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario (ACCHO) no longer are simply community-serving organizations, according to Angela Robertson, executive director of Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre.
“You’re living beings for us. You serve and you serve us not as charity; but the work that you do is social change work,’’ Robertson said at a recent awards’ ceremony that also focused on the legacy of Black AIDS service organizations.
The Black CAP “LEGACY: A History of Service’’ event included entertainment, a panel discussion and the presentation of “Lifetime Advocacy Awards’’ to Dr Jill Andrew, Aina-Nia Ayo’dele Grant and Al Ramsay.
The three were recognized, said Black CAP, for their “dedication to advocating for the important and necessary work of the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention’’.
Andrew, a New Democrat MPP and the Ontario party’s critic on women’s issues, culture and heritage, is well-known as a leading voice on matters of gender, race, social justice and healthcare
inequities. She’s also a founding-member of the NDP Black Caucus.
Ramsay is an associate vice president at TD Bank and is responsible for the bank’s LGBTQ2+ & Black Customer Segments. Grant is a former director of community resources at the City of
Jamaica-born Robertson, in the keynote address, highly commended Black CAP and ACCHO.
“You have done work that has strengthened Black, African and Caribbean individuals and communities. Many are here to attest to that personally and politically,’’ said Robertson, A former chair of Black CAP’s board of directors.
“You have built and kept alive, a credible base of advocacy, of activism and community, that has made it possible for others to continue the fight against HIV and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination; against homophobia; and against anti-Black racism. I locate myself personally as benefitting from this political and social change orientation to what you do as service delivery.’’
Robertson, who is a 2017 recipient of an honourary Doctor of Laws degree from York University, saluted the 33-year-old Black CAP for specific areas of work such as research; for serving people
with “care, with dignity and always with food’’; and also for “always reminding us, and others, of the fact that you do this because all Black people’s lives are important’’.
“You have been relentless in bringing a feminist and intersectional lens to the programs and services that you have developed, knowing that gender, immigration status, income, disability, language, nationality, LGBTQ identity – that they all matter,’’ she added.
“You have been unwavering in pushing back against homophobia and transphobia, in and outside our communities, and affirming and welcoming LGBTQ clients and community members.’’
obertson thanked Black CAP and ACCHO for their legacy of service, care, resistance and “Black love’’.
However, she emphasized that their work is not yet done. “Hence, we are here with you to sustain our foundation for the work and to build new and different legacies for the years ahead,’’ said Robertson.