Scarborough MPPs celebrate Black History Month with inspiring event

On a crisp winter afternoon, community members gathered at the Malvern Community Centre to celebrate Black History Month with an event organized by local Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs). The event, which featured speeches from MPPs Raymond Cho, Vijay Thanigasalam, David Smith, and Aris Babikian, highlighted the theme of “Black Excellence, a Heritage to Celebrate and a Future to Build.”

MPPs David Smith, Vijay Thanigasalam, Raymond Cho and Aris Babikian with poet Dwayne Morgan in the middle

Cho kicked off the event by emphasizing the importance of reflection and learning during Black History Month. He expressed pride in the contributions of Black individuals and communities in shaping the province and the nation. Cho highlighted the historic significance of MPP David Smith, one of the first Black MPPs elected to the Ontario PC caucus, and praised MPP Vijay Thanigasalam for his excellent work as Associate Minister of Transportation.

Thanigasalam echoed Cho’s sentiments, recognizing the resilience of Black community in Scarborough and Ontario. He emphasized the need for ongoing action against racism and unfair treatment, and pointed out the recent government initiatives to mandate Black Canadian history learning in grade 11, and its investment of $16.5 million in Black Youth Action Plans.

MPPs Raymond Cho, Vijay Thanigasalam, Aris Babikian and David Smith

Smith reflected on the legacy of Black History Month, tracing its roots to the visionary intellect of Carter G. Woodson. He reminded the guests that Black History Month is a year-round celebration of the contributions and achievements of Black Canadians.

In his address, Babikian expressed gratitude to the 42nd Division Superintendent and staff for their dedication to keeping the community safe. He acknowledged the challenges they face, particularly with the Delta Hotel situation, and thanked them for their efforts. He praised Taibu, a community health service, for their work in addressing healthcare issues in the community.

The event also featured a keynote speech by poet, author, and community leader, Dwayne Morgan. His speech resonated deeply, inspiring attendees to strive for excellence and work towards a more just and equitable society.

Reflecting on Black History Month, Morgan emphasized that black history in Canada spans over 400 years and is an integral part of the country’s foundation. He commended the black community for their contributions to Canada’s development, noting that their sacrifices and challenges have paved the way for the diverse and inclusive society that exists today.

Morgan, who was appointed to the Order of Ontario and has a star on the Scarborough Walk of Fame, shared his journey, highlighting the struggles he faced as a young black man pursuing a career in the arts.

The event featured a drumming performance by Babarite Williams, symbolizing the spirit of community and togetherness that defines Scarborough.

As attendees left the event, they were reminded of the rich history and culture of the black community in Scarborough, and the importance of celebrating and honoring it throughout the year.