Over the last year, I’ve invested a significant amount of time in working with Edmonton’s African and Caribbean communities. Through that work I’ve had some amazing opportunities to learn about the history and experience of Albertans of African descent – a history that goes back over 100 years.
As I’ve learned the history of early black pioneers like John Ware and JD Edwards, spoken with my father about his experiences arriving in Alberta in 1967, and heard from many black Albertans about their experiences settling here in the decades since, I’ve come to realize that there is a rich and beautiful story that has gone unrecognized and untold.
This is something I’m also hearing from these communities – that our province needs to seek opportunities to recognize and share about the history and experience of Albertans of African descent.
I’m proud to announce that I am spearheading two initiatives to begin that work.
First, I am working with the Honorable Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Speaker Bob Wanner to hold the first official recognition of Black History Month at the Alberta Legislature at 6pm on Thursday, February 2.
Speaker Bob Wanner will host the celebration. There will be a program of approximately 30-40 minutes with addresses from the Government of Alberta, leaders/members of all opposition parties and a significant member of the local African or Caribbean communities as well as some artistic performances.
Second, I am circulating a petition calling for legislation to establish an annual African-Canadian Heritage Day. This would be similar to the Ukrainian Heritage Day Act which was passed in early November.
To move this idea forward, I need to demonstrate there is strong community support. To that end, I’ve attached a copy of my petition calling on our government to introduce and pass the legislation required. I ask that you distribute it amongst your networks and communities to be printed and signed by as many people as possible. If we are able to gather a significant number of signatures, I will have good leverage to push for a bill to be tabled during our Spring Session in 2017.
Please note – signatures will *not* be considered valid unless they are accompanied by a full home address showing that the signer is a resident of Alberta. The petition will be tabled in the Legislature at the start of the Spring Session. Accordingly, the names and addresses of persons who sign this petition may be made available to the public. Completed petitions can be forwarded to my constituency office (address below).
The more signatures we can gather, the bigger the impact my tabling will make. This is a fantastic opportunity all of our communities to come together to celebrate the heritage, history and ongoing contributions of Albertans of African descent, and it’s my hope that you’ll stand with me to make it happen.
Thank you for support in this. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to celebrate and strengthen the diversity that makes Alberta great.
Have a great holiday season!
Chair, Standing Committee on Legislative Offices
Edmonton, AB T5K 1M4