One thing I’m appreciating the more I work at these Tales from the 2.9 is there’s still so much work to do. Karlyn’s post made it clear she’s in the business of bringing out the best in her fellow Black Canadians, but it’s not up to her to make sure our community lives up to its potential. Instead, we all need to step up and collaborate to build our best possible lives.
One mistake our community often makes is not aiming high enough. We’ve been told for so long we’re worth less than others whose skin doesn’t look like our own, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We may only be 2.9% of Canada’s population, but that’s still a million people. That’s one million stories. One million voices bringing something different to the table. Tales from the 2.9 is an example of what’s possible when you bring dozens together and combine their talents for a cause—can you imagine what we could accomplish if we built something tens of thousands times greater???
Karlyn’s post definitely calls to me in a profound way, challenging me to do more for the Black Canadian community beyond February and ensure we develop digital spaces where we can nurture and grow our narratives. I’ve already seen it happening with this year’s Tales, speaking at youth employment groups, community events against racism, and as a panellist discussing life as a Black Canadian father in an ever-challenging world.
I’m making moves to help improve things for my community, but that’s not the point. Karlyn said it best—”Our youth is depending on us. Rest if you must, but continue to carry the torch wherever you are.”
And that? It’s a pursuit one should never stop working for.
Enjoy Karlyn’s entry!
It means celebrating who I am – a St. Lucian native and a Canadian as well. It means finding or having space to create and celebrate all the narratives of who I am and who I am becoming along with acknowledging and celebrating those who have done the same here. It a nutshell it means telling our stories – to me, it represents acknowledging our existence, creating space for us, who we are, where we come from and where we’re going – the legacy we would like to create for us Black Canadians.
What’s your experience been like as a Black Canadian and how has it shaped who you are today?
I learned the hard way that people won’t automatically accept you or create space for you. There are experiences that might try to take away your voice – so you must always advocate for yourself no matter what.
Canada is a beautiful country and I am so proud to have been here for the past 14 years experiencing life through the lens of other cultures and people. I’ve made some wonderful friends and there is still so much to experience. At the same time, some of my experiences taught me that my voice matters. Experiencing adult bullying and racism in the corporate industry – I’ve learned that how people treat you isn’t a reflection of who you are and that no matter what I should always speak up for myself. My story and who I am matters because at the end of the day I must do better for the generation coming after me.
We should never minimise our stories, our accents, our stories and who we are because some people are uncomfortable – if we did we could never give the opportunity to become a friend, an ally and an advocate.
What’s something you’d like to see more of within the Black Canadian community?
More collaboration. More togetherness. And more support in action. I believe that if we band our efforts together we can make Black History a celebration year round — there’s so much to celebrate and one month isn’t enough. The energy and passion we throw behind events in February – can we extend this throughout the year? And when we do – can we all rally after each other and make it a resounding success?
As you mentioned, Casey – we represent 2.9% of the population – what can we do together? Like this blog can we all rally and share all these amazing stories and make this initiative the most read blog throughout the year? Can we make #BlackHistory365 – an everyday celebration of Black history by Camille & Roger Dundas the most liked, shared and read? I believe we can. I would like to see a movement like this because the more we throw our support behind each other – the more success we will bring into our community which means we all win.
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 will frame this with the understanding that we all have biases. But I would say that everyone should check their biases. Pay attention to your biases and then do something about it. Doing this allows us to be aware of where we’re judging or operating out of fear which often leads to exclusion. If you are a people manager or responsible for hiring – be honest with yourself – are you doing all you can to ensure that your company or department is as diverse as it should be? Are you allowing yourself to learn more about our culture? If you would like to learn more – are you asking questions? Get involved. Listen. Ask what can be done to support. One cannot get to understanding without interacting. And when you do, do it from a place of sincerity.
If your life could teach but one thing to your fellow Black Canadians, what would it be?
Hm, that’s a tough one. I would say to my fellow Black Canadians I love you (we need to acknowledge each other more) and there’s a reason you were chosen for the life you are living right now. Remember that always. Use your resilience – your story – to drive change for the inspiration and advancement of our community. Our youth is depending on us. Rest if you must, but continue to carry the torch wherever you are. And that torch can be smiling at each other; sharing each other’s work; supporting each other; owning and sharing your story; giving an encouraging word; driving change through policy via government and organisations… whatever’s needed.
When I think of the stories of people like Harry Jerome, Bromley Armstrong, Fil Fraser, Viola Desmond and so many more, yes, they were discriminated against – Bromley wasn’t served at that restaurant in Dresden – but he didn’t go home, complain and sulk about it… he used his story of resilience to raise awareness and drive change.
So yes, there’s a reason you were chosen for the life you are living right now. Remember that always. Use it wisely. And remember that I see you. I honour you. And I love you.
Elephant Storyteller | Success Coach | Lifestyle Speaker
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