I hope you all had a great long weekend and wishing you all a happy Emancipation Day and MONTH!
This August is the first year we celebrate our Black liberation for the full month, thanks to the work of my friend and colleague, MPP Lindo. MPP Lindo sponsored Bill 75, Emancipation Month Act which passed last December.
I had the honor of speaking in the House to this Bill then, where I shared a poem I wrote titled ‘Hello Black Girl’. This was a love letter to my younger Black self - to all younger Black selves - sharing the lessons I learned throughout my life and now held close as an adult.
To me, this poem captured the meaning of Emancipation Month. While Black people were liberated from slavery on paper in 1834, we have yet to be emancipated by the ideas, limits and systemic injustices that mean Black folks across Ontario have yet to achieve full social and economic equality.
And while there’s much more work to do beyond a month of significance, recognizing Emancipation Month gives us reason to celebrate how far we’ve come with a motivating reminder to continue pushing for the day we can exist as our most authentic selves year-round.
Watch the clip here.
There was also so much joy felt across the city this weekend with the return of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival’s Grande Parade for its 55th anniversary. Complete with the fashion colour, music and culture that draws crowds from across the globe, this year's celebration, once again, brought the city to life in ways only Caribana can! A special thanks goes to the keepers of this vital piece of our city’s culture – the mas makers, calypsonians, steel pannists, dee jays – for keeping it alive and vibrant as ever.
In our own community, Spadina Museum is being reimagined with an Afrofuturistic lens for its Dis/Mantle exhibit, opening this weekend. Dis/Mantle showcases Mrs. Pipkin, a homeowner of safe haven for those seeking freedom through the Underground Railroad. The interactive display includes soundscapes, ceramics, visual art, and portraits by artists from Canadian artists of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora, including lead artist, Gordon Shadrach.
This weekend, Dis/Mantle will also take place as an interactive evening in Mrs. Pipkins Manor; a fully immersive experience to tell the important, yet undertold history of Black emancipation here in Toronto.
The interactive experience is open August 5th and 6th from 6-11PM. The Dis/Mantle exhibit will be running from August 5-December 31 with guided tours being offered.
For more information or to register for your free tickets, click here.
Earlier today, Statistics Canada released their report on police-reported crime in 2021, which found that last year, police-reported sexual assault was at its highest rate since 1996. I was deeply troubled by this news as this is a trend that should have been moving downwards – and sharply – over the past 25 years. Yet, here we are.
It’s also worth noting that this is but a fraction of the total occurrences of this violent crime, as the vast majority of sexual assault cases go unreported.
It is this upward trend that we reignite our urgent call as the Ontario NDP for real action towards the public health crisis that is sexual assault and gender-based violence. This includes a much-needed increase in funding for rape crisis centres and the front-line staff that keep these vital supports running, and a comprehensive prevention and response strategy province-wide, including investments towards education, mental health supports, access to justice, and the systemic dismantling of toxic masculinity that allows for the continued pervasiveness of this heinous crime.
Read my full statement here.
Our dear community member, Antonio Madeira is still missing, last seen around his home on July 12 at Oakwood Avenue and Vaughan Road. He is described as 76 years old, 5’5 in height and approximately 150 pounds with hazel eyes, a tanned complexion and balding white hair with a full white beard (pictured below).
Antonio was last seen wearing a dark jacket, light khaki pants, light coloured shoes and a baseball hat.
His family asks our community to continue to look out in more public areas like streets and parks, as well as more covert areas such as alleys, backyards, and sheds. He may be confused and unaware of his surroundings.
His family and authorities continue to be concerned for his safety and are desperate to having him home. If you have any information on his whereabouts, please contact his family at 647-282-8439, and/or police (416-808-1300) and Crime Stoppers (416-222-8477) as soon as possible.