February 28th, 2020 - 5:19pm
Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Madam Speaker, the theme for Black History Month is “Canadians of African Descent: Going Forward, Guided by the Past”.
I believe all of us, regardless of ethnicity, can find inspiration and guidance in the stories of trail blazing African Canadians, people like Windsor resident James L. Dunn, a 19th century black businessman who sued the Windsor Board of Education for its segregationist practices in 1883.
He lost the case but then continued the fight by being elected a school board trustee and desegregated all of the city’s schools. He went on to be elected a town councillor and continued changing policies from the inside. It is fitting that Windsor’s newest school be named after him.
But one does not have to look into the past to find inspiration. In my riding of Windsor West we lost four outstanding individuals of African descent in 2019: Daphne Clarke, one of the founders of Windsor Women Working with Immigrant Women; Brian Kersey, longtime labour and human rights activist; Freida Steele, one of Windsor’s first black nurses who cofounded the Windsor and District Black Coalition; and Shelley Harding-Smith, Canada’s first black female master electrician and a longtime school board trustee and a personal mentor of mine.
Let us all learn from their examples.