Having lived in the Toronto area my whole life, I’ve had the benefit of a highly multicultural Canada.
Half of Toronto’s made up of visible minorities, with 8.5% of that pie being Black. It’s quite possibly the best place in the world to raise my mixed-race family, in a city known for its diversity and acceptance. There’s something for everyone in The Big Smoke, and I don’t see my family living anywhere else!
But what about the rest of Canada?
Toronto’s but a 7.7% sliver of Canada’s population at 2.8 million strong, yet the 220,000 Black people who call it home make up more than 23% of the country’s total Black population! In fact, 80% of our country’s Black people live in a mere 0.1% of the country’s landmass, which makes you wonder what life is like for the 20% in the rest of the country.
Hailing from Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, Alicia Bell’s view is one of optimism, seeing how far she’s come and filled with hope for her years ahead. Check out what she has to say below!
And me, I’ll be prepping for tomorrow’s penultimate Tale from the 2.9!
What does being Black Canadian mean to you?
Being Black Canadian means that I’ve never had to worry about the colour of my skin or who my friends are. I’m proud to live in an amazing country that accepts everyone regardless and I feel blessed to be Black Canadian.
What’s your experience been like as a Black Canadian and how has it shaped who you are today?
Being Black Canadian has shaped who I am today because I grew up in an area of New Brunswick that was
predominantly all white. Even though I was different I was proud to be different and happy to educate people on my background. Being diverse and Black in Canada opens me up to influence so many people with my passion for helping others reach their health and fitness goals.
What’s something you’d like to see more of within the Black Canadian community?
I would love to see/help Black Canadians understand the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle. I would love to help the community and get involved/create events that bring the community together and educate them on the importance of nutrition and exercise. There are far too many inactive lifestyles and rampant obesity in our communities today.
What do you think those outside the Black Canadian community need to better understand in order to coexist with Black Canadians in a respectful and considerate way?
I think that it’s 2017 and people need to stop judging others by the colour of their skin, whether it’s in the workplace or a social setting. Our youth shouldn’t have to be judged or blamed for things based on the colour of their skin. If we all are treated equally with no double standard, life would be so much easier.
If your life could teach but one thing to your fellow Black Canadians, what would it be?
You are not limited to your surroundings or resources—you can be anything you want. You can have anything you want, and no goal is more greatly achieved than when you work hard for it. Who would have thought that someone like me from Plaster Rock, New Brunswick could be a leader in health and fitness, shoot commercials and be in magazines?
Never give up, keep pursuing, keep evolving.
Alicia Bell is a Toronto-based Kinesiologist, Personal Trainer, Strength Coach, Fitness Model, competitive Figure athlete, and Track and Field Sprint Coach who has devoted her life to helping people reach their goals in fitness and sport. Alicia Bell is also a well known Canadian Health and Fitness Influencer.