Youth Take the Lead Ahead of the Federal Election

Dinner+Politics Event Planning Team from left to right: Kamika Sylvester, Yasmin Didi, Joy Nortei, Victoriya Wright, Paige Fisher and Shantel Watson. Missing: Habbiba Tani

Members of Brampton’s African, Black and Caribbean (ABC) community were treated to an evening of spirited political discussion, hosted by a group of highly engaged young Black Bramptonians. This non-partisan gathering was organized by Vision Brampton, a volunteer youth-led organization, in collaboration with Operation Black Vote Canada and Moyo Health and Community Services at Cyril Clark Library.

Black Bramptonians were invited to discuss and identify challenges that significantly impact the community, as well as the implications that these issues could hold for the upcoming federal election. This was followed by a session of brainstorming action plans to address these issues. The event was the first Brampton edition of the popular series “Dinner+Politics”, which was initiated by Operation Black Vote Canada.

Participants were invited to partake in discussions after enjoying a fine selection of Caribbean and African cuisine. Afterwards, guests were encouraged to share their ideas for change.

One of the attendees, Idris Orughu, believes that a major challenge the Black community has struggled with is the Silo Effect. The Silo Effect can simply be defined as a lack of collaboration and communication between two or more parties. According to Idris, we can eliminate this by creating a “comprehensive body or network that reflects the diversity of our ABC communities.”

Other critical issues that were discussed included increasing representation at all levels of government, criminal justice reform and increasing employment opportunities for black youth.

Participants agree that these issues need to be brought to the forefront of federal politics. Such an event comes at a time when instances of anti-black racism are becoming a growing concern in Canada. Many believe that the federal government and its bureaucratic engine have failed to respond to institutional and systemic anti-black racism in a timely and effective manner.

In the Region of Peel, black families have been voicing their frustration in regards to anti-black prejudice and discrimination in schools, as well as the criminalization of black youth. Such instances of institutional and systemic anti-black racism in Canada have drawn international criticism, notably from the United Nations. Therefore, the discussion points from each Dinner+Politics event will be compiled and sent to the leaders of each major Canadian political party before the federal election.

None can deny the gravity of these challenges. Nevertheless, Marjorie Taylor from United Achievers’ Club, asserted her faith in the capabilities and talents of Black Canadians, saying that, “one of the strongest attributes within our community is that we are resilient in the face of adversity.”

Paige Fisher is a young community leader who spearheaded this dialogue. In addition, she is a founding member of Vision Brampton. Vision Brampton advocates for equity and inclusion, builds civic engagement in young people and works to foster a sense of pride and belonging in our city. Worthy of recognition is the hard work and dedication that Paige, joined by Victoriya Wright, Joy Nortei, Kamika Sylvester, Yasmin Dini, Habbiba Tani and Shantel Watson have demonstrated. It should be noted that this group of talented and intelligent women successfully organized this event, despite the absence of stable external funding. Also worthy of recognition is the ally-ship put forth by Vision Brampton leadership in organizing this event.

I am optimistic that this gathering will serve as a catalyst to strengthen our community’s current and future efforts for racial equality and representation.

Editors: Aisorya Bhandari, Gurleen Badwal and Harleen Klair

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