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National Black Coalition of Canada

Jean Augustine discusses the National Black Coalition of Canada.

Part 2 of discussion about National Black Coalition of Canada.

The National Black Coalition of Canada, this is a button you won’t find anywhere now because this is an organization that died in some way. It was very, very vibrant. What we were doing as black Canadians were really trying to mimic um, or to copy the American um, the American organization: the NAACP, the Nation Association of um, Coloured People. And so we worked really very hard in Canada to bring groups together, the black community together. We hoped at the time, the vision was to have blacks all across the country, that there’d be a national organization through which we would filter social programs, we would do different things. We would advocate on behalf of the concerns of black people right across Canada because what we knew at the time, what we know now is that the situation of African-Canadians wherever they are in this country is more or less the same. We face racism, we have difficulties in empowerment, we have difficulties with our young people; we have challenges. Whether you’re in Halifax, you’re in um, Calgary, or you’re in Vancouver or Toronto; we found that our situations were the same and we felt that a national organization will give us an opportunity to bring our voices together. And of course, the organization lived for awhile with really good leadership. There were people like Wilson Head, Dr. Wilson Head. There was Dr. Howard McCurdy from Windsor. There was Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré. There was Dorothy Wells from Montreal, and um, leadership all across the country. And when we came, we came together in conference, we’d meet in regions and then we’d come together. The national conference would be in one city and then move to another city. Very vibrant, very energetic, but of course um, as it says on the button, “Identity, Unity, Liberation” were more or less the themes of the work of the National Black Coalition of Canada. As I say, it’s no more as a national organization; we lost the impetuous for various reasons. One is how do you fund a national organization where you bring people from coast to coast to coast and you know the cost of running a national conference; the lack of necessary funding to support an organization. And also internal bickering around the question of leadership, there was a sense that those people who were in the leadership were a bit elitist by that there were voices that were saying “everyone who is an executive member is a doctor this and a doctor that [and that] we want our voices as the community to be in this organizing.” But what was missed was the fact that those people with leadership were also in a position to pay their way or to piggy back on things that they were doing and their professional life so that they could do the work that was so important. And so when we try to work in an office, a national office which we did have, it was really very difficult to keep the office open; to pay staff, to do the communication that was important to do. And so there were all kinds of um, sidebars and different things that somehow the organization had to close its doors.

Um, it would be in the um, in the 80s. It would be around—yeah, it would be in the 80s, had it went into demise. Um, there were chapters – chapters across the country. And I think a couple of the chapters remained alive. You know, there was a chapter that was going thinking one of the Western cities I think had a fax chapter that went for awhile. But I think right now we don’t have a National Black Coalition of Canada organization that speaks on behalf of all of the blacks in Canada.

Howard McCurdy to be invested in Order of Canada (2013, January 1). Windsor Star Retrieved from http://blogs.windsorstar.com/news/howard-mccurdy-to-be-invested-in-order-of-canada

James, M. (2006). Misrecognized materialists: Social movements in Canadian constitutional politics. Vancouver: UBC Press.

Suspend policeman, Black coalition urges. (1979, August 29). The Globe and Mail (1936-Current.) Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/docview/1239261530?accountid=15182

Walker, A. African Canadians. In The Encyclopedia of Canada’s Peoples (2011 ed.). Retrieved from http://www.multiculturalcanada.ca/Encyclopedia/A-Z/a16

Walker, B. (2014). The National Black Coalition of Canada: “Race,” and social equality in the age of multiculturalism. CLR James Journal, 20 (1):159-77.