The Black Youth Panel Discussion took place on March 23rd, 2023, at the Queen Elizabeth II Building.
The discussion brought together Black youths from across the province who were in high school and undergraduate programs to discuss actions that the Government of Alberta can take to empower Black Albertan Youths. Students from the University of Alberta Black Student Association, MacEwan Black Student Association and Canadian Black Nurses Alliance, Concordia and Norquest were in attendance.
Deputy Premier Kaycee Madu hosted the panel discussion.
Seven outstanding Black youths served as panellists and provided thoughtful responses to several questions regarding obstacles, social pressures, and racism. Panellists included Gina Malaba(University of Alberta Black Students Association President), Cordae Hall, Precious Majekodunmi, Jaxon Hume, Tyson Rowe, Giselle and Elyssa.
The conversation centred on the barriers faced by Black youths in Alberta and the ways in which the Government of Alberta can create meaningful empowerment opportunities for Black youths.
Questions for the panellists included:
What kind of hurdles or difficulties have Black youths encountered while trying to pursue an education?
How are Black youths making a difference in Alberta
How can the Government of Alberta celebrate and support Alberta’s Black Community?
The panellists shared insights into challenges that Black youths face, such as barriers in accessing mental health services and experiencing discrimination from a teacher due to having an ‘accent’. Cordae Hall also highlighted the negative stereotypes that Black male athletes face of being dumb, which impacts their aspirations for higher education. For instance, Hall received harsh comments and surprised reactions whenever he indicated that he plans to pursue a law degree after graduation from his undergraduate program.
Gina Malaba emphasized that there is a lack of transparency regarding opportunities available to Black students, which poses a barrier to the advancement of ABC(African, Black and Caribbean) youths. Elyssa also delved deeply into her experience starting a Black student club at her high school and explained the challenges she faced such as minimal support from the administration.
Additionally, all of the panellists suggested that the Government of Alberta should implement grants, scholarships and leadership programs for Black youths to ensure that Black youths are well-equipped and successful as future leaders.
After the panel discussion, the floor was open to the audience to ask Honorable Kaycee Madu questions.
Participants asked questions regarding funding for Black student clubs, plans for combating the decrease in student applications for medicine and methods for addressing racial discrimination in high school.
Participants also voiced a need for further information regarding the recent grants that the Government of Alberta implemented. Participants from other cities in Alberta, such as Red Deer, brought attention to the need for funding or resources to help Black students living in rural cities jumpstart their initiatives.
In conclusion, Honorable Madu shared his inspiring journey to becoming a minister of skilled trades and professions.
He also emphasized that the panel discussion is extremely important for hearing the voices of Black youths and stated intentions to host it again next year. At the end of the panel discussion, deputy minister Madu shared closing remarks and encouraged the audience to continue to push to break barriers and strive for excellence.