Empower Black Communities23 January, 2016
Since the arrival of the first European settlers in North America, Black people have been contributing to the edification of Canadian society. In parts of Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies and British Columbia, Black and other communities can trace their ancestry to the pre-confederation settlement of people of African descent on Canadian soil. Today, Black Canadians constitute close to one million people in Canada, 2.9% of the population. 2006 Statistics Canada data reveal that Black Canadians are as educated as their non-Black counterparts and experience, once one controls for age distribution, similar levels of employment as their non-Black counterparts.
However, significant challenges persist. The last ten years has seen a dramatic spike in the incarceration of Black men and women. Corrections Canada data reveals that Black inmates are more likely to be placed in solitary confinement, less likely to make parole than their white counterparts, charged with similar offenses; yet they are also less likely to reoffend than average. Qualified African Canadians are also experiencing the reality of glass ceilings in some industries.
The Michaëlle Jean Foundation persued a partnerships with the Nia Centre for the Arts and the Environics Institute’s Black Experience Project, on an initiative that used the arts to empower Black youth, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area. The Foundation had sponsored a groundbreaking exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), as part of its Scratch & Mix Project. The exhibition featured the artwork of eleven young artists from Black communities, whose work addressed issues of concern to them. The Foundation will be working on developing a collective impact project, which will empower young people to implement lasting solutions to issues affecting their communities. Support this initiative.