RE: Black History Month
February is Black History Month. It is a month to reflect on and celebrate the enormous contributions made by Black Canadians. One example close to home is James Calbert Best; among many other achievements, Best co-founded and became the first President (1957 to 1966) of the Civil Service Association of Canada (CSAC), which evolved into the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
It is not uncommon to have the contributions of Black people written out of history to be forgotten. This is unacceptable and must be challenged with ongoing education and learning opportunities.
This Black History Month, PSAC has organised two online panel discussions. I hope that all members will be able to attend.
Working While Black: A discussion on recourse mechanisms for Black workers
Thursday, February 11 at 4PM MST / 5PM CST. Register here.
A History of Black Labour Activists
Monday, February 22 at 5PM MST / 6PM CST. Register here.
The Canadian Labour Congress will also be hosting an important webinar: Dismantling Systemic Anti-Black Racism with an Equitable COVID Response & Recovery Plan.
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 11AM MST / 12PM CST. Register here.
We all have a responsibility to dismantle the structural racism in organisations and institutions that we are a part of which holds back, actively harms, and devalues the lives of Black people in our communities and around the world.
I had the privilege of sitting in on a discussion with Dr. Angela Y. Davis this week and she spoke a lot about the important role that working people have in challenging structural racism as racism is inseparably linked with capitalism. Every day, unions challenge the greed and exploitation of capitalism by working together for better wages and working conditions, but our anti-racist work cannot be a side project. We need to integrate our anti-racist work into the daily activities of our union. As Dr. Davis said, “Black lives need to matter for all lives to matter.”
To get involved in anti-racist work in the Prairie region, each region has their own Human Rights Committee (HRC). I encourage everyone to get involved in your local committee:
Saskatoon HRC: no active committee at the moment but in search of interested members.
Structural racism will not be rooted out of our institutions in a day or a year but we need to make the conscious effort every day to examine the way we do things through an anti-racist lens and change what needs to be changed so that all lives will truly matter in Canada and around the world.
“In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”
― Angela Y. Davis
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairies