The speakers were Darlene Lamey, spokesperson for Ujamaa, and Sébastien Labelle, speaking on behalf of Solidarity Halifax.
See below the video a transcript of Sébastien’s speech.
My name is Sébastien Labelle. I’m here as a member of Solidarity Halifax, and I’m here in solidarity with those voicing their outrage today toward a ministry and government who have been found guilty of facilitating what Supreme Court Justice Leblanc termed a “takeover” of the Africentric Learning Institute, and toward a government who now appears to be undermining the operational capacity of the Council on African-Canadian Education (CACE) as an act of retribution and to protect ministerial officials from accountability.
CACE, out of which emerged the Africentric Learning Institute (ALI), has over the last 17 years been one of the most important, independent organizations examining racism in Nova Scotia. The ALI has been countering this racism through an educational framework that centres people of the African diaspora within their own historical, cultural and philosophical narrative.
The work performed by CACE and the ALI is crucial. Education Minister Casey may think that the fight against racism doesn’t warrant properly funded and staffed, independent organizations mandated to respond to this problem. However, we at Solidarity Halifax feel strongly otherwise. The BLAC report may have been issued 20 years ago, but racism did not get shelved along with the report. We wish there hadn’t been a need for an anti-racism caravan in North Dartmouth just over a year ago. We wish there hadn’t been a need to draw parallels last year between the events in Ferguson and the historic and systemic oppression in Nova Scotia. We wish there wasn’t a need now for a Working While Black in NS website to expose everyday workplace racism. We wish we didn’t have to be here today to denounce government interference in arms length organizations representing the interests of African Nova Scotians. But sadly, here we are. As our government continues its arrogant and paternalistic behaviour toward marginalized communities in this province – regardless of who is in power.
But, lets be clear. The issue that brings us here today is not an African Nova Scotian problem. It’s not a Black problem. Government abuse of power is everyone’s problem.
Minister Casey may say that resources and mandates need to be reviewed and made more efficient. Sure, of course, we, at Solidarity Halifax, share with African Nova Scotian citizens the desire for the best use of public resources. But reviews with a genuine intention need to happen with considerate public consultation and participation from the communities affected. And, finger pointing cannot happen until Minister Casey cleans up her own house. Flagrant deception and abuse of power from government officials is something all Nova Scotians should be loudly denouncing.
We are demanding accountability for those guilty of wrongdoing. We are demanding transparency in consultations with the African Nova Scotian community. And we are demanding an apology from the current government toward all peoples of Nova Scotia for failing in their responsibilities toward the citizens of this province.