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How we can turn the momentum of Black Lives Matter into real change

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I am a young Canadian Black man and I feel fortunate and privileged to have grown up in this country. I was born in Ghana and my family immigrated to Canada when I was young in pursuit of a better quality of life.

On Sept. 26, 2019, my phone rang. It was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He was calling in the wake of the now-notorious “blackface incident.”

Trudeau apologized for putting me — a racialized member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council — in what he characterized as an “awkward position.”

The prime minister also told me that he was embarrassed and concerned about how his family, peers and the public would view his actions and his character. He acknowledged that many of us, including people within the government, have blind spots because of their privilege and world view.

I respect him for this gesture and recognized the courage it took to make the call.

I was more concerned, however, about how our leader would assure Canadians and the rest of the world that what happened, however many years ago, was not cool then — and is not cool now.

During our conversation in September, my recommendations to the prime minister were specific and straightforward. I urged Trudeau to lead by example and to mandate that all elected officials and decision makers in government receive anti-racism education and training. He agreed with me. He promised changes.

Some of those changes came to pass, such as the appointment of Bardish Chagger as minister of diversity and inclusion and youth in November 2019 and the establishment of an Anti-Racism Secretariat the following month.

But these attempts at change by the man at the head of the ‘national table’ stand in stark contrast to the impressive acts of solidarity by the Black Lives Matter movement. People traumatized by images of death and pain have come together in acts of courage and determination across Canada.

Anti-racism protests have taken place across Canada since the death of George Floyd. (Gian Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

I am disheartened by people in power — but I am encouraged by the power of the people.

I don’t want to diminish the work of the prime minister or of the Canadian government. I understand efforts are being made. There is momentum right now for the Black Lives Matter movement from coast to coast, but we need some concrete steps to turn that momentum into positive change.

On June 8, my Youth Council colleagues and I penned a letter calling on the prime minister and his cabinet to endorse and implement our anti-racism calls to action. These calls to action are relevant to all levels of government and any elected official. 

We want:

  • Mandatory anti-racism training and education for elected officials and publicly funded institutions.

  • Measurable targets and evidence of training.

  • A commitment to diversifying leadership so that it is reflective of Canadian society.

  • The collection of race-based wellbeing and/or quality-of-life data to ensure investment in social determinants of health and areas of society where racialized and vulnerable populations need it most.

  • A move to defund police and re-invest in Black and Indigenous communities.

I took to Twitter recently to share more thoughts regarding training:

During our recent youth council virtual gathering on June 26, the prime minister addressed these calls to action and recognized their importance and relevance.

But I don’t see any changes — and I cannot wait any longer.

That’s why I’ve launched CollectiveAction.ca to facilitate public engagement and stimulate action via customized messages directed to elected officials. Add your voice to the calls to action and engage your local elected representative wherever you are today. 

It’s not enough to talk about change in front of a camera or on a stage, or with a social media post. We must tear down and dismantle systems that perpetuate injustice and begin to change the way we govern society fundamentally.

Street portrait in honor of Georges Floyd in Pointe-Saint-Charles, Montreal. (CBC / Radio-Canada)

Elected officials from the prime minister down must be held accountable while being given specific direction on what we — the people who put power into their hands— want that change to be.

The time for talk is over.  It’s time for collective action.




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Corrections watchdog urges moratorium on doctor-assisted deaths in Canadian prisons – Kamloops This Week

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Thanksgiving, large gatherings to blame for surge in COVID-19 cases in Ontario, officials say

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As Ontario saw record numbers of daily COVID-19 cases over the weekend, health officials on Monday are putting some of the blame on large gatherings that may have taken place over Thanksgiving two weeks ago. 

In York Region, 16 people, including three infants, are believed to have contracted the novel coronavirus following a Thanksgiving gathering. 

Three families gathered at a home in Vaughan over a span of two weeks around the Thanksgiving weekend.

At least one person attended despite having mild symptoms. 

One family member then went to work while symptomatic and infected two additional individuals. 

“Every time we socialize with anyone beyond our immediate household, there’s a risk that we enter into,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s medical officer of health. 

“This particular cluster illustrates that sort of a risk.”

In the province’s daily COVID-19 briefing, Health Minister Christine Elliott pointed at Thanksgiving gatherings as one of the factors for the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. 

“We are also starting to see some of the numbers go down in some of the modified areas but because of the impacts of Thanksgiving, we’re not seeing that happening quite as quickly as we’d like to,” Elliott said.

Weddings, religious service exempt from provincial gathering limits

This past weekend, nearly 100 people, many without masks, congregated outside a Toronto church for a wedding on Saturday. 

A woman, whose identity CBC News agreed to protect because she fears repercussions from the community, was passing by when she saw the gathering and spoke out.

“It was wrong,” said the woman.

“It was going against everything we’re being asked to do right now and it gives the impression that what they’re doing matters more than keeping the rest of the people safe,” she said. 

Ontario has restricted gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors in areas that are in Stage 2 — Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa.

But religious services, like weddings — even in hotspots like Toronto — are exempt, as long as the venue is at less than 30 per cent capacity. 

In a briefing Monday, Toronto Mayor John Tory said the rules may need to be changed.

“I think we have to take another look at those regulations,” he said. 

“Any large gathering, no matter how careful you are, has a certain risk associated with it.”

PC MPP under fire for maskless photo at indoor gathering

Meanwhile, a Progressive Conservative MPP is under fire for not wearing a mask while posing for a group photo.

Sam Oosterhoff posted the picture on social media over the weekend but later deleted it. 

“I think it was shocking,” said Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca on Monday. 

“I think it was inappropriate and I think there definitely needs to be consequences for Mr. Oosterhoff.”

Oosterhoff, who is also the parliamentary assistant to the education minister, apologized for the picture, saying he should have worn a mask when taking the photo, given the proximity of the people around him.

Critics have called for his resignation, saying he was not following his government’s pandemic guidance. 

In the province’s daily COVID-19 briefing, Premier Doug Ford said that’s not going to happen. 

“Hey guys, everyone makes mistakes,” said Ford. 

“I have 100 per cent confidence in Sam. He does a great job representing his area. People love him out there and he came out and apologized.”



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‘A community champion,’ philanthropist and former Ticats owner, David Braley dies at 79

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Hamilton is mourning the loss of David Braley, a former owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats with three decades of success in the Canadian Football League, a supporter of sport in the city, and an honoured philanthropist. 

Braley, who had owned the BC Lions since 1997, passed away in his Burlington, Ont. home at age 79, says a media release from the team.  

In a tweet, Mayor of Hamilton Fred Eisenberger called Braley a “community champion.”

“David Braley’s contributions live on and continue to make our city a better place,” he wrote. “His passion for community, arts & sport was immeasurable.”

He also journeyed into politics, when former Prime Minster Stephen Harper appointed Braley to the Canadian Senate in 2010, where he served for nearly three years. 

He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2019 “for his contributions to the Canadian Football League, and for his entrepreneurial and philanthropic leadership in his community.” 

His philanthropy was remembered in a tweet Monday from Hamilton Health Sciences which said “We are profoundly saddened by the passing of David Braley. He was a champion for the people of Hamilton and contributed so much to improving medical education and research to the benefit of the global community.”

In a media release Bob Young, caretaker of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, said “I and the Tiger-Cats mourn David’s passing. He was an enthusiastic Hamiltonian and a wonderful benefactor to our community’s hospitals and universities. The CFL and Hamilton communities have lost a great leader and champion today.”

The first team Braley owned in the Canadian Football League (CFL) was the Hamilton Tiger-Cats from 1989 to 1992, when it returned to community ownership.

During his first season of ownership, the Ticats went to the Grey Cup.

“While David was well known for his role with the BC Lions, he was also always, at heart, a Ticat fan. Our sincerest condolences go out to David’s family, and his wide circle of friends and admirers across our community,” said Young. 

Braley went on to collect four Grey Cups during his time as an owner in the CFL. Three of them were with the BC Lions, and his last was with the Toronto Argonauts, which he owned from 2010 to 2015.

The Argonauts won the 100th Grey Cup in 2012. 

He also acted as chairman of the CFL’s Board of Governors and served as an interim commissioner from March to November in 2002. 

Braley was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (2012), McMaster Sports Hall of Fame (2007) and Hamilton Sports Hall of Fame (2006).

Tributes to man whose name adorns buildings across the city are being posted on social media. 

Along with contributions to football, Braley championed sport in Hamilton by helping to bring the World Cycling Championships to the city in 2012. 

He was also part of southern Ontario’s successful bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games, which saw Tim Hortons Field host all 32 soccer matches. 

“David Braley…was our champion in every sense of the word,” said CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie in a statement. 

“David didn’t just talk about this idea. He lived it. An owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, as well as the Argos and Lions, he often stepped in to sustain and turn around franchises when they needed him the most.”

Braley was born in Montreal in 1941, but moved to Hamilton two years later. The Ticats say he discovered his true passion for football after attending his first Tiger-Cats game at Ivor Wynne Stadium. 

He played high school football at Westdale Secondary School, studied sciences at McMaster University, and worked with General Motors Acceptance Corporation in Hamilton and then with London Life Insurance.

In 1969, he purchased William Orlick Industries, which is now known as Orlick Industries, and transformed it into a leading manufacture of aluminum die-cast auto parts that provided hundreds of jobs in the Hamilton area. 

Braley has donated over $125 million to various organizations, says the Ticats media release. 

From August 2006 to June 2007, he donated $50 million to McMaster’s medical school and another $5 million for the university’s athletic centre, which is named after him. 

Braley also gave $10 million to Hamilton Health Sciences for a new cardiac, vascular and research institute, also named after the philanthropist, and $5 million to St. Joseph’s Healthcare for operating rooms and kidney care. 



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