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DIALOGUE WITH DAWN: August marks goal to tell more complete history

Black history is Canadian history, says Newmarket-Aurora MPP Dawn Gallagher Murphy in honour of Emancipation Month
Newmarket-Aurora MPP Dawn Gallagher Murphy.

Newmarket-Aurora MPP Dawn Gallagher Murphy writes a regular column for NewmarketToday about provincial initiatives and issues impacting our community. 

I trust everyone is enjoying the summer with family and friends. The concert series in Newmarket and Aurora have provided our residents with some great summer entertainment. I enjoyed a few of these concerts in July and must say I thoroughly enjoyed the '70s and '80s music that Dwayne Gretzy played at the Newmarket Riverwalk Commons. 

This month, the 43rd Parliament of Ontario commences. I am looking forward to representing our great Newmarket-Aurora community and voicing the matters that concern us most. As I prepare for this great honour, I reflect on the collective goals of our diverse community and how best to represent them at Queen’s Park. 

The month of August is Emancipation Month. This solemn celebration begins with Emancipation Day Aug. 1, where we commemorate the Slavery Abolition Act of 1834, in which 8,000 people of African descent were freed throughout the British Empire, including here in Canada.

In December 2021, our government proclaimed the month of August each year as Emancipation Month. During this month, in addition to honouring the past, we are encouraged to reflect on our present and work together for a better future. As we strive to learn about Canada’s collective history, we make a conscious effort to never rewrite that history but tell a more complete story that recognizes the genealogical struggles of African Canadians. 

This month of celebration also supports the future of Black communities by equipping the next generation for success, a feat achievable through the collaborative effort of municipal, provincial, and federal governments.

Our government’s goal is to eliminate discrimination by the use of educational support systems while continuing to advance the importance of racial equity across the province. To this end, the Ontario government has implemented initiatives like the Black Youth Action Plan that works toward eliminating systemic, race-based disparities by increasing opportunities for our black community members.

In addition, we introduced the Racialized and Indigenous Supports for Entrepreneurs (RAISE) Grant Program, which helps to remove economic barriers by providing funding, training, and culturally-relevant services to entrepreneurs. 

On Aug. 1, I had the honour and privilege to attend and speak at the Emancipation Day Ceremony at Aurora Town Hall, hosted by the Aurora Black Caucus. Alongside other local dignitaries, I listened to the Black Leaders of Aurora as they addressed our town. At this event, Milton Hart, president and chair of the Aurora Black Caucus, said, “Black issues are not just Black issues…they are Canadian issues.”

In another address, Vincent C. Estick, communications coordinator at the Aurora Black Caucus, spoke to the roots of African culture. Vincent expressed how those ancestral roots have been painstakingly crafted into a proverbial seat at the table of global equity today. 

As I commence my work in the 43rd Parliament of Ontario, I remember the words of Milton and Vincent, two honourable men who I consider friends and great community leaders. Black history is Canadian history.

The types of programs and grants I have mentioned above provide tangible results as we recognize the important contributions and leadership that our Black communities have made and continue to make in Ontario as a major part of the vibrant social, economic, political and cultural fabric of our province.

As your MPP, I am here to listen, collaborate, and help break down barriers. Let’s build our community together. My constituency office is open to serve you. Please contact me at [email protected] or call 905-853-9889.