Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 38th Parliament,
Volume 142, Issue 33

Wednesday, February 9, 2005
The Honourable Shirley Maheu, Speaker pro tempore

Black History Month

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, there is no doubt in my mind that without the contribution of each and every one of our communities, Canada would not be the great country that it is today. We all recognize the contributions that Canadians of all backgrounds make to the rich multicultural fabric of our country. For the past 10 years, we have taken the month of February as a time to recognize the contributions of Black Canadians to our history and heritage.

Yesterday, Jean Augustine, the MP who introduced a motion to make February Canada’s Black History Month, introduced the Prime Minister of Canada to a group that consisted mostly of young Black Canadians here on Parliament Hill. The Prime Minister talked to the group about the importance of history and how all Canadians are enriched by the contributions of Black people in Canada. He said that whether they trace their roots back to the Underground Railroad, the Caribbean or to Africa, their history is something that all Canadians can draw on for support and inspiration.

As a person originally from Africa, it was my pleasure to be part of this group. Attending with me were Senators Mercer, Oliver, Poy and Cools.

Although Black History Month puts an emphasis on the contributions of past Black leaders, Prime Minister Martin also looked to the future. The Prime Minister told the young people assembled that what Black History Month was really about was the history that they would make as they took the reins of this great country over the next 50 years and how the history they would make would inspire future generations of Black Canadians to reach for even greater heights. To quote the Prime Minister:

I really hope that sometime 25, 30, 50 years from now there is a group of young people like yourselves who are here in this room, and what they are celebrating is a brilliant history of the 50-year period that you are going to be leaders of this country. That is what this is all about.

This, I believe, is the future to which we can all look forward.