I’d be willing to get some serious cash that had the Bank of Canada not decided to put Viola Desmond on the $10 bill starting 2018, most of us would be at a loss for any significant stories from Black Canadian history.
Despite more than 20 years with an annual nationally recognised month of recognition, Black Canadian history still feels like a minuscule footnote compared to everything we’re usually taught about the 150 years we’ve spent as a nation.
Tanya’s Tales entry raises the very valid point that our story often gets muddled with the Black American narrative, with our non-Black peers expecting us to instantly relate to a culture entirely different than our own. Though Tales from the 2.9 focuses more on the “now” than it does the “then”, I’d personally like to do more exploration of our history and package it in a way that the Black kids who come after me don’t have nearly as hard a time learning about exactly who they are.
Tanya’s piece is brief but impactful, and I hope it gets you thinking about the things it put in my mind—the huge need to build more awareness around the stories that make us who we are today.
Enjoy today’s read and I’ll see you tomorrow!
What does being Black Canadian mean to you?
It means being grappling with being in the shadow of our southern counterparts. It does also, however, means embodying the spirit of the islands. Our community is small but mighty and resilient.
What’s your experience been like as a Black Canadian and how has it shaped who you are today?
My experience has been a slow walk on this journey to understanding my identity in the context of the larger community that sometimes self-defines Blackness in specific ways.
What’s something you’d like to see more of within the Black Canadian community?
I’d like to see new standards for how we deal with each other professionally. I’d like us to deal with our mental health wounds. I’d like us to be able to be open and honest with the state of our union and unions. I’d like us to know better and do better for the future generations.
What do you think those outside the Black Canadian community need to better understand in order to coexist with Black Canadians in a respectful and considerate way?
That our need to self-segregate isn’t different from any other cultural group that breaks bread together. That we aren’t in any position to be racist towards other groups and still bear the brunt of most racism and prejudice. That our children deserve the same chances and opportunities to be children.
If your life could teach but one thing to your fellow Black Canadians, what would it be?
That being the change you wish to see in the world isn’t cliché, it’s true, important and game-changing.
Tanya Hayles is a multifaceted multitasker. By day, she is Chief Creative Officer for Hayles Creative Elements, a boutique creative agency that houses event planning under its umbrella and is a ghostwriter for Writer’s Blok. By evening, she is the founder of Black Moms Connection, a non-profit which derives from the Facebook group that grew from 400 to 4000 members worldwide in a year.