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Beyond Black History Month : Working towards an antiracist province

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The National Black Coalition of Canada was federally registered in October of 1969 and became the first Black and/or Caribbean National Organization in Canada. And so, it is fitting that the Ceremony held at City Hall in Edmonton, Alberta, on February 1st included opening speaker, Honorable Kaycee Madu, the first Black Deputy Premier of the Province of Alberta who is also Minister of Skilled Trades and Professions.

It was 27 years ago that the National Black Coalition of Canada (NBCC) first celebrated Black History Month in Edmonton. In 1978, the Edmonton Chapter was founded and registered under the Alberta Society’s Act. Their mission is to create positive impacts on the lives of everyone in the Black community and encourage youth to realize their full potential. Honourable Madu understands and supports that mission. He shared that “it is good to reflect, share our success and talk about the challenges.” This year’s theme was Black-led Community Organization Working in Unity which is a positive step towards building a strong and unified front in efforts to uplift the status of Blacks who have come to Alberta and call it their home.

The Coalition of Canada – Edmonton works with other Canadians towards achieving “full social, racial, cultural, political and economic harmony across Canada,” ensuring that their participation in the shaping of Canada benefits Black fully while working with all groups in society. Madu is proof of that and demonstrates that goals can be achieved through hard work. Prior to joining politics, he volunteered for the Nigerian and Igbo communities and then worked as a lawyer for Legal Aid Alberta, finally set up his own Law firm. In 2019, Madu became involved in politics to be able to help more Albertans. Since that time, he has served as Minister of Municipal Affairs, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General and Minister of Labour and Immigration while serving as MLA and serving constituents in Edmonton Southwest.

Today, nearly 130,000 Black people live in Alberta and even though there is a need to continue fighting racism and improve Black Albertan’s lives, the community continues to grow as people discover this land of opportunity.

The provincial government established the Alberta Anti-Racism Advisory Council (AARAC) and launched Alberta’s first Anti-Racism Action Plan last year. This plan is important because it provides a path forward on how Government will address racism and “build a more equitable and unbiased society.” Several initiatives to conduct anti-racism engagements in Alberta have already been completed. This includes meetings with Indigenous communities, in-person engagements, online surveys, and community-led sessions. People’s experiences with racism and the fight for equality are important aspects of how to improve and close the gap that exists in our present system today.

On March 17, 2023, the Premier held the second Summit on Fairness for Newcomers, which will bring Immigrant stakeholders together from across Alberta. They discussed actions to support newcomers’ success and the drive for economic growth. “Knowing the perspectives of regulatory bodies and colleges involved with foreign credential recognition and creating pathways for success for newcomers are important,” Madu states. The Summit is one important step toward giving Immigrants equal opportunities to work, live and thrive in Alberta.

Another immigration program that fills in gaps in our province’s economy is the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP) which creates streams for newcomers to succeed in Alberta. These streams include the Alberta Opportunity Stream, Rural Renewal Stream and Foreign Graduate Stream. Madu reiterates that there is still much work to be done, but working together, “we can achieve our goal faster.”

The Black community looks to the NBCC for information and guidance, as well as Black people who settle in the province of Alberta. Organizations such as the Africa Centre, Black Owned Market and any other organization that helps the Black community should also be acknowledged. Making the community thrive is because of the amazing work that has already been accomplished. Black History Month is a celebration. NBCC supports all blacks in the Edmonton community and is the organizer for this celebration in Edmonton annually.

Honourable Madu is a proud member of the Black Community who will continue to advocate for Albertans of all color.

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