The following is a letter sent to artist and community leader Robert Small from Justice Donald F. McLeod after he was exonerated by the Ontario Judicial Counci, and given the right to sit on the bench after the three year long ordeal. Small sent this letter to the Caribbean Camera because he thought that the community deserve to know how Justice McLeod is feeling about the decision of the council.
Justice McLeod writes:
If you are receiving this letter, it’s because you have played a part in my story over the past 3 years. Since the decision, I have received hundreds of emails and messages and I recognize that to respond to each and every one of them will prove to be futile. This letter is my attempt to speak to those who have truly traversed this journey with me. This letter is coming to you, not by mistake, but rather in an intentional way to say to you that I recognize what you did for me, I couldn’t have done it without you, and I am thankful.
Let’s thank God from whom all blessings flow; in whom we find the resolve to stand in the face of adversity.
I thank my wife and family, those who testified on my behalf as well as those who provided written and video character references. Your support never wavered and at every stage of this protracted storm you assured me that right would indeed prevail.
I recognize my legal team and Dr. Wendell Adjetey. Thanks for your critical analysis, willingness to learn and courage to implement.
I acknowledge my extended family, close friends, clergy, judicial colleagues, members of the bar and court staff who refused to allow me to feel isolated. Your continued communication, advice and reassurance allowed me to navigate the process with a greater sense of confidence.
Finally, the African proverb says, “it takes a Village to raise a child.” To my village, I offer my thanks and deep appreciation. Your presence gave me strength. You collectively let me know that this experience will not disqualify me from my destiny. I made it through these 36 months largely because you refused to let me feel conquered. You organized, fasted, prayed, remained vigilant and bore witness. For this I am eternally grateful.
It’s my belief that we stand strongest when we can not only respect but also transcend our differences and work together to uplift our communities. Each one of us, within the constraints of our circumstance, is called to service. And I remain privileged to be part of that call.
I end with the words I often recite when speaking to people across this country. This is the Black Legacy Acknowledgment and is my way of recognizing the struggles of those who did, so we could be…
“I wish to acknowledge my ancestry, a deep and profoundly relevant history of Black peoples across the diaspora. A history, lineage and inheritance that predates this country, chattel slavery, colonialism, and begins with Africa. An ancestry that recognizes struggle and survival while honouring our narrative of pursuing self-determination. Today I stand valued, grateful and proud to be Black.”
Justice Donald F. McLeod