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Alberta Embraces Diversity | Kaycee Madu, Minister of Labour and Immigration

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Alberta Is Embracing Diversity, and there is a Renewed Sense of Possibility | Kaycee Madu, QC Minister of Labour and Immigration 


Minister Kaycee Madu, Minister of Labour and Immigration, was at the inaugural Business Summit of the By Black for Black group yesterday with a message of hope, promise and renewal of possibilities.

The event was held at the Maharaja Banquet Hall, Edmonton. Minister Madu spent time with each exhibitor talking and listening to them and with the Summit participants assuring them of provincial support to entrepreneurs and businesses. There was a palpable sense of possibilities in the room.

MLA David Shepherd also attended the Business Summit. Robert Tyndale moderated the Lunch and Learn – Bobby T and the panellists were Rochelle Ignacio – co-founder of BOMYEG, Jesse Lipscombe, Dr. Jean Walrond and Sharif Haji – the Executive Director of Africa Center.

The Edmonton Community Foundation sponsored the event.

LCCMedia is grateful to Minister Madu for the opportunity to share his remarks here.

It is always an honour to be a part of Black History Month events, but this year’s events are extraordinary.  First, we don’t have to remind someone that they’re muted … we are here together.

This month I’ve been privileged to attend some genuinely inspirational events.   Whether I was celebrating excellence at the Black Women Trailblazer’s round table or listening intently to the stories of the Black Youths in Alberta, I was struck by the changes in outlooks, hopes, and achievements of the people I met.

The message of the importance of black history is now embraced throughout Alberta.  Our province has only celebrated black history month for five years, but, during the last couple, everyone has started to take the contributions of the greatest black heroes in Alberta to heart.  

We must never forget that we stand on the shoulders of the giants that came before us.  Without Violet King-Henry’s excellence, Alberta might not have celebrated its first Black Solicitor General; I’m proud to honour her legacy whenever I walk through her square.  Willis Reese Bowen showed the entrepreneurial spirit thriving in today’s Black Albertans and the businesses around this room.  John Ware has left a legacy that we see in school names. These names are no longer known only to historians, but all Albertans embrace them as part of what makes our province great.

Looking at all the impressive businesses here, I wish I’d started my law practice now.  Even 20 years ago, black-owned businesses were rare.  Now, look at the variety of options that can be found just around the corner.  Events like this wouldn’t have been possible just a few short years ago – now they happen all the time.  We get together to learn about trends innovations and to meet tomorrow’s partners to share our knowledge.  If we don’t tell our story, no one will.

I heard from entrepreneurs thriving throughout the province during the Women’s trailblazers event.  As each woman spoke, they mentioned mentorship.  They recognized those that helped them in the past and sought opportunities to support the future trailblazers.  We remember our roots, and we nurture those that follow.  That’s why the black community is so special and why panels like today are so important.  We can learn from the change-makers supporting the black business community and use their guidance to thrive throughout Alberta.

I am so proud to speak to a group that supports each other, succeeds together, and celebrates it. Edmonton Southwest may have elected me, but you are all my true constituency.   When I started my business, there was still that feeling that you had to be better than the best to compete, and every mistake reflected severely not just on yourself but on the whole black community.  We have now gotten to the point where those fears are gone.  We are no longer judged solely by our mistakes, but we are recognized for all that we accomplish.  And look at all that we’re accomplishing.

There is a renewed sense of possibility among young black people today.  The optimism they shared during the Black youth round table overwhelmed me.  They’re looking towards futures in STEM careers, they’re embracing the digital future, or they’re eagerly looking forward to success in business.  They will be the future leaders, mentors, and Alberta success stories.  More importantly, there is now a belief that they no longer need to excel to enter these fields; success is available to anyone in any field.

Seeing the potential in this room is why I’m excited to be taking on my new role as the Minister of Labour and Immigration.  I am a religious man, and I believe everything happens for a reason.  In my new role, I will ensure that there will be opportunities and support for each of us.  There is no better path to equity than an excellent job.  Whether you’re starting your own business, building a personal success network, seeking financial support or guidance, the Alberta government will be there to help.

We have already brought in programs to speed up the recognition of international training for newcomers to spend less time waiting and start working at the level they deserve.  The Alberta Advantage Immigration Program will speed up newcomers’ permanent residency so they can enjoy all the benefits this great province offers.  Workers have three streams to help start their careers sooner, and entrepreneurs have four ways to qualify.  We won’t be left behind.

We’re also working hard to ensure that everyone in this room receives the support they need.  We have grant programs targeted at people of colour.  The Anti-Racism council report is complete, and I will use it to help remove systemic barriers, language barriers, and any other sources of racism they found.  While in Justice, I ended carding.  Whether you were African or Caribbean, you were judged based only on where you were and the car you drove.  I brought in legislation and spent a lot of political capital to ensure that this evil policy would never happen again. In my new Ministry, I will continue working to remove unjust policies wherever they are found.

Alberta leads Canada out of this recession with the most substantial job recovery numbers, highest average income, and the brightest future.  This will continue, and we will be there with employment support, education support, and newcomer support to ensure that everyone finds success.

During last night’s leading event for black history month, each speaker had comments that left me reflecting long into the night.  

  • “We come from the same DNA.  Everyone just wants opportunities” and is looking to support and be supported 
  • By recognizing our similarities and “celebrating the ordinary in life,” we will find common ground and eliminate racism
  • We need to start listening and trying to understand each other.  We all want a “society where we’re respected, not judged, but treated equally”

As a government and as Albertans, we’ve taken great strides to reduce racism.  I wish I could stand here and say that it will be eliminated tomorrow, in a year, in a decade, but I can’t.  There will always be ignorant fools that refuse to change or refuse to open themselves up to the gift that diversity offers.  Never tolerate them, but don’t believe they represent more than a tiny minority.  We all have different pasts, different perspectives, and different ways of viewing the same situation.  There are bound to be misunderstandings along the way.  And some of those challenges may be due to skin colour, accent, or clothes … or something as simple as preferring tea to coffee or what you had for breakfast.  Even when mistakes are made, be patient, be willing to correct, and focus on the whole person and not a single incident.

This February is special.  Finally, getting together in person will help us continue these critical conversations throughout the year.  I believe people want to understand and listen when we’re willing to have those conversations.  Alberta is embracing the gift of diversity, and we are finally enjoying the success that we deserve.  The momentum that exists in Alberta will improve everyone’s life and propel us to further success.  I was part of the PICC meeting last night, and we finally approved the next step to returning to normal.  As of Tuesday, we’ll be seeing smiling faces again.  Yes, on March first, the mask mandate is gone.  Masks will only be required on busses and in AHS or continuing care facilities.

While you’re here, please be sure to visit the booths, talk with the entrepreneurs, and help them realize their dreams.  Let’s take these feelings of community, support, and celebration beyond these walls and use them to propel all of Alberta to an inclusive, understanding, diverse, and prosperous future.


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