What of the future of the African Canadian Legal Clinic ?

So when last did you hear about “financial mismanagement”? Remember Caribana?

Was the festival not removed from the cash-starved community-based organization which had been running  it, because of “financial mismanagement” and placed in the hands of a small clique who found  favour with the powers that be? Is it not the same clique which has been receiving funding from the government and has  been running the carnival for more than ten years?

Now we learn that another institution in the black and Caribbean community is under attack: this time it is the African  Canadian Legal clinic (ACLC) in Toronto which has been serving our community for more than 20 years.

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) announced last week that it will withdraw funding from the ACLC effective September 30. Reason given? “Financial mismanagement.”

So here we go again!

With respect to both  Caribana and ACLC, we find deep divisions in our community.

Clearly,  “divide and rule” strategies are at work. Many of us in the immigrant community will recall that our former white masters in the Caribbean and Africa used these strategies to “keep the uppity natives in their place.”

Today we find people in our own community  allowing themselves to  be used  to dismantle our institutions.

We  understand that the LAO has an advisory committee of people from the Black community.

But we have been told  that the advisory committee had nothing to do with the decision of the LAO  to cut off funding from the clinic.

However, did any member of that black elitist advisory group ask the LAO not to withdraw funding of the ACLC?

We were rather surprised to learn that a representative from Black Lives Matter is on the committee. That is the same Black Lives Matter which would have us believe that they are working in the interest of the Black community. We have not seen Black Lives Matter protesting in their rowdy fashion over the defunding issue.

The Clinic Committee of the Loa’s Board of Directors   claims that ACL’s Board and management ” have engaged in financial mismanagement and that there has been a lack of board oversight.”But Margaret Parsons, executive director of the clinic, has denied that it (the clinic) is ” in fundamental breach of its obligations ” under the funding agreement with the LAO.

“We have been audited up to the eyeballs and we have done everything that the auditors recommended. If the auditors had found embezzlement or fraud or any major mismanagement, we would have been shut down in a flash, ” she told the Caribbean Camera.

Parsons has also pointed out that clinic has a lot of enemies ” because of its fearless and uncompromising position in advocating for our community.”

And clearly, she is determined to fight this issue.

“We will take this to the Supreme Court, if we have to,” she has said.

However, the Caribbean Camera remains concerned about the future of the clinic.

Can it function without funding from the LAO?

Acknowledging that negative publicity about financial mismanagement of the clinic ” has created divisions in our community, Parsons said the clinic still has the support of a large number of people who are concerned about its future.

And tomorrow a meeting with concerned members of the African Canadian community to discuss the problems of the clinic will be held at Toronto city hall.

AS ACLC’s program director, Mofaba Baker, told the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination last week, Anti-Black racism is ‘ alive and well” in all spheres of Canadian society.

We hope that Anti-Black racism and a deeply divided community do not lead to the destruction of the  ACLC.