Rejection letters were a mistake – social services minister

Ahmed Hussen

Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Minister of  Families, Children and Social Development, told The Caribbean Camera on the weekend that government has the responsibility to make sure that the money from the newly  launched  Supporting Black Canadian  Communities Initiative is received only by Black organizations.

Hussen was responding to a question about rejection  letters which recently went out to several Black organizations which had applied for funding through the program.

These organizations received letters informing them that their leadership was not sufficiently Black.

Several  established Black organization such as the Ontario Black History Society and Operation Black Vote Canada recently received these rejection letters

Hussen had said he has discussed with his officials in his department how such a mistake could have happened and has demanded a retraction.

He said measures have been put in place  to ensure that the mistake does not happen again.

In an interview , he explained that ” this is the first time the government of Canada has put together a funding program to increase the capacity of Black Canadian community organizations.

“And when you introduce something that is new like that to the government system, there will be some adjustments that that will have to be made by the bureaucracy and by the public service.” 

The applications guidelines for the program say at least two-thirds of the leadership and the governance structure must be people who self-identify as Black. The mandate of the organization must also be focused on serving Black communities.

Discussing the significance of Black History Month, Hussen who came to Canada as a refugee from Somalia, said that this year is ” particularly special.”

‘We are  celebrating the 25th anniversary of Black History Month in  Canada and the 75th anniversary of Viola Desmond’ s fight against injustice by resisting racial segregation in  Nova Scoia.

” Black History Month gives us an opportunity to reflect on a journey we have to continue – a  journey started by those who came before us.”

” We have to make sure that we continue their work to fight systemic racism, to dismantle systemic barriers, to make sure that Black Canadians are a part and parcel of every aspect of our society,” Hussen said.