As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Heritage for Multiculturalism, it is incredibly important that every February we recognize and celebrate Black History Month. I extend greetings and best wishes to all Black Canadians throughout Canada and in our riding of Parkdale—High Park as we celebrate the incredible contributions made by Black Canadians to build the Canada we know today.
Parkdale—High Park is and has been home to everyday heroes such as Anderson Ruffin Abbott, M.D., (7 April 1837 – 29 December 1913) the first Black Canadian doctor, and Dr. Rita M. Cox, D. Litt. CM. As a recipient of the Order of Canada, Dr. Cox’s contributions to our community include the expansion of the Caribbean collections at the Parkdale Branch of the Toronto Public Library, and as a citizenship judge she has and continues to welcome new immigrants into our Canadian family. These two are trailblazers of the Black Canadian community in Parkdale—High Park.
As a human rights and constitutional lawyer, I had the opportunity to work on anti-Black racism initiatives with the African Canadian Legal Clinic. The experience taught me about the significant challenges faced by Black Canadians in our country, but also educated me about the tremendous contributions made by Black Canadians to our national fabric.
During this, the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, our Government honours these contributions and will continue to do so moving forward. Reflecting on the courage and bravery of those who affected change throughout our history, we have chosen Viola Desmond as the new face of our ten dollar bank note to recognize her impact on promoting civil rights and equality in Canada.
As we mark the 21st anniversary of Black History Month in Canada, I encourage you to participate, share and post your stories to honour the legacy of Black Canadians and our country’s heritage not only throughout February, but all-year-round.
Arif Virani, MP (Parkdale—High Park)
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Heritage (Multiculturalism)