National Black History Month Expo scheduled for February 1st

By Lincoln DePradine

         Kingsley Cato

The chief organizer of an upcoming Black History Month (BHM) expo in Toronto is looking forward to the day-long activity, saying a matter relating to a single complaint of the 2019 event had been resolved.

“The whole idea behind the expo is to really showcase Black culture in Canada,’’ said Kingsley Cato, head of the Ecumenical Council and Community Foundation (ECCF).

He said a “big issue’’ was made by someone unhappy with the delivery of a raffle prize won by a woman. The prize involved a Nissan car.

Jamaican-born Kingsley P. Gilliam, a veteran community activist and former federal government of Canada employee, told The Caribbean Camera he was met with an “insolent and arrogant’’ response when he enquired about the prize handover last year.

“The winner sought my assistance to get the matter resolved,’’ Gilliam said. “They were dismissive, instructing the winner to take the ticket to the dealership to collect the car.’’

Gilliam said after a document review, he discovered that the raffle prize “did not refer to a car but rather to a one-year lease of a car. So, I pointed out that the raffle of a one-year lease of a car is different from raffling a car. When you win a car, you own it outright’’.

For his part, Cato said the winner “just did not read the rules prior to participating in the raffle’’.

The car was on a free one-way lease. However, under Ontario law, the winner is required to pay government tax on use of the vehicle, Cato said.

Another of the raffle’s conditions, he said, was that the winner must hold a valid driver’s licence.

“The winner did not have a valid driver’s licence,’’ said Cato. “It was an older lady; she was not the one creating the commotion. At the end of the day to resolve the matter, I gave her a gift of $1,000.’’

Gilliam has also questioned the use of the word “ecumenical’’ as part of the ECCF’s name.

“These guys are a private for-profit company,’’ said Gilliam. “For a start-up organization or for-profit company to receive public funds, is unheard of.’’

According to the ECCF’s website, the group “was founded as a non-profit organization in 2004 with a view to serve the diverse Black communities of Ontario and to encourage cross cultural exploration, discovery, dialogue and interactions in barrier-free environments’’.

Cato, in an interview Monday, said the ECCF fell dormant until he took it over a couple of years ago.

“Ecumenical infers unity, not religious,’’ he said. “It’s not a religious organization but it’s an organization that’s focused on community development.’’

In hosting the “National Black History Month Expo’’ on February 1, the ECCF’s sponsors and partners include the Jamaican Canadian Association, Black Business and Professional Association, 1st Friday, Grace, and the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce.

The Ontario Black History Society (OBHS) was also invited to partner, but OBHS officials told The Caribbean Camera the History Society is unable to, since it is busily involved in planning its own annual Black History Month brunch.

The ECCF expo, at Global Kingdom Ministries in Scarborough, aims to encourage “inclusivity, cultural exploration and discovery’’, according to organizers.

The day-long four-part event, which opens with a prayer breakfast and networking session, also includes a five-hour “success summit’’ led by several professional speakers.

“The reason for the summit is to deal with some of the social issues we face in the community,’’ Cato explained.

All day on display will be the International African Inventors’ Museum curated by Francis Jeffers.

The finale, from 7 pm – 11 pm, is a “Celebration Concert’’, featuring local and overseas entertainers.

“The Celebration Concert is to showcase our diverse culture,’’ said Cato.