York Region Liberal Caucus celebrates Black excellence, resilience

By Lincoln DePradine

Francesco Sorbara and Rosemary Sadlier

Liberal Member of Parliament, Tony Van Bynen, has reiterated the Canadian government’s commitment to improving the lives of Black Canadians, who have been disadvantaged through centuries of anti-Black racism and discrimination.

“Although progress has been made, there’s still much more to be done to make sure equal rights and to eradicate systemic racism. Equality of opportunity must be at the foremost of all that we do,’’ said Van Bynen, MP for Newmarket-Aurora. He made the comments at a recent York Region Liberal Caucus event.

Van Bynen was joined by several other speakers, including political colleagues, as well as African-Canadian community members for the annual Black History Month event, which was described as “an evening that celebrates Black excellence and resilience across York Region’’; and an opportunity for the sharing of “stories and ongoing work to empower, celebrate and strengthen Canada’s Black community’’.

“Black History transcends beyond one month of the year,’’ said Francesco Sorbara, MP for Vaughan-Woodbridge and parliament secretary to Diane Lebouthillier, Canada’s minister of national revenue.

Featured speaker Rosemary Sadlier traced her involvement in efforts leading to the recognition of Black History Month and on August 1 being observed nationally as Emancipation Day, saying the intent of her work has been “to bring attention and focus to the experiences of African-Canadians and the African-Canadian community’’.

Sadlier, an educator and author, was president of the Ontario Black History Society from 1993 to 2015.

She noted that Black people have been in the country since before Canadian Confederation in 1867, saying she “joined the process of doing what I could, building up a community of interest, providing as many as 2,000 presentations at schools, reaching out to other community organizations’’, in her lobbying attempts for the observance of Black History Month and Emancipation Day.

Award-winning poet, author and arts educator, Nadine Williams, commended Sadlier on her community contributions over the years.

“I recognize the hard work that you have put in. You have been an inspiration to me and to so many others,’’ Williams said. “I want to give you all your flowers; you are worthy of it.’’

Sobara, in remarks at the conclusion of the event, referred to it as “a very fascinating evening’’.

“Black History is Canadian history. Canada’s social fabric today, and going forward, is so much richer and so much better, and so much more vibrant, because of Black Canadians from coast to coast to coast,’’ said Sorbara.

“We know there is still much work to be done to break down all systematic barriers. The Canada we all love and stand for with pride is strong, diverse and inclusive, every day of the year.’’

Black History Month, said MP Van Bynen, “provides an opportunity to recognize the achievements of Canadians of African descent. This is a time to celebrate the vast contribution made by Black Canadians to our culture, our history, and to our business community’’. 

The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “is committed to investing in programs that would improve the social, health, economic and wellbeing of Black Canadians,’’ said Van Bynen, a former mayor of Newmarket

LJI Reporter