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Unapologetically Canadian
Unapologetically Canadian

Episode 57 · 4 months ago

Getting history right with Irene Moore Davis

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This is my interview with Irene Moore Davis, a woman who descends from Black pioneers settlers who lived in Southwestern Ontario in the nineteenth century. She speaks, teaches and writes about Black history, equity, diversity, and inclusion and will publish a book about the history of African-descended people in Windsor and Sandwich soon. 

My name is Tracy aeal and I am unapologetically Canadian. Hello, and today we are speaking with Irene More Davis. Hi Irene, how are you doing? I'm well, Tracy. How are you doing? Not Too bad. No, we met online because we were both part of a writer's write in session with Ben Waffle. It was so much fun and you were talking about all of the projects that you are doing at school in connection with the underground railway and Hiphop, and also it's a really cool things. Can you just describe what it is you do, because you are a poet, what heck you doing? Teaching stuff? So I am an administrator and instructor at St Clair College in Windsor, Ontario, where I teach English and history and race relations related anti racism courses, and I have a new course that I will be offering in the following semester called Hiphop, culture and social change. So I'm excited about that. Outside of my work, I'm president of our local Black History Society and an author and I love to write poetry. I love to write about black history. I do a little bit of long form journalism for just local magazines and I a really enjoy teaching and presenting to people about black history and diversity and inclusion all over town and thanks to the pandemic, which is a very sad thing, obviously, I've been doing a lot more virtually across the country too. So that's been an interesting outcome of our current situation. And I've also just executive produced a documentary with my dear friend Heidi Jacobs, and it's called the north was our Canaan and it is about the underground railroad history of Sandwich, Ontario. Yeah, which you gave me a link to and I'll put that definitely in the show notes. That such a fascinating story. I know a little bit about it because when I worked for the Ontario Ministry of Tourism we did a lot of underground railway stuff and sand which was on that tour so for sure it would have been. It's a really important place in terms of that history. Is it is and and but you're so what's a college course? What do? What are the people who are taking the course usually why are they taking it? What what do you see normally in your classroom? So the underground railroad history course that I've been teaching for the last eight years or so is something that it exists as a general education humanities and social science elective, so all kinds of people take it. There are some students who are just looking for an elect dive and it fits into their schedule. But what I hear from a lot of students is that they have always heard a little something about this history. They think it's really interesting that there's a whole course devoted to it for a semester. They want to know more. Some of them have come from places like Windsor or sandwich or Harrow or Colchester or Ambersburg here in Ontario, places that have quite significant underground runroad history connections, but they've just never had an opportunity to learn much about it. or in some cases I'll hear from students saying, you know, my grandmother told me that we're underground rubroad descendants, but I'd like to know much more about that because my family doesn't have a lot of details. And I love when I have students of all of those categories. They all learn from each other and they come away with a much deep percent so of this this piece of history that's really Germaine to this region of Southwestern Ontario in particula well and it's actually very important in a lot of places in Canada too, because I know that there's a quite a lot of background here in Montreal and then in eastern townships and of course Nova Scotia. I mean there's a and the idea that Canada commune freedom for so many people and that we're...

...not generally aware of it is just shocking to me. Look, it's such a great story for our country. It really is. I mean it's complicated. I mean, as someone who is a descendant of the underground railroad and as someone who's studies that history quite a bit and is always learning more about it, I really do want to give our country credit for the amazing role that we played in helping as many as thirtyzero people, according to government of Canada estimates, make their way to freedom, find freedom here, live here in Canada in safety from US slave catchers for the most part. And at the same time I'm also very conscious of the extreme racism, the brutal discrimination that people found when they came here and how sometimes we overlook that part of the story and we just, you know, we think we, you know, rolled ou the welcome mat and made everyone feel special and part of Canadian culture when that wasn't quite the the situation either. So one of my favorite things to study about the underground road communities in Canada is actually the forms of resistance that they engaged in to change their circumstances once they got here and to become more fully engaged in Canadian society. You know, I look at stories of these formerly enslaved folks who arrived here wanted to enroll their kids in school because education had been denied to them their entire lives previously, and found that they were not able to enroll their kids in school. So they engaged in fundraising to open up their own schools, or they would write, they would, you know, seek the help of those who could write for them or transcribe their thoughts and they would write petitions and letters to the colonial government it to get access to education for their kids, or they would use the court system. And I mean that's pretty remarkable for people that just shortly before that had been enslaved individuals in America. So I love that part of the story too, because, you know, folks came here and they had grit and courage and they were determined to make the best well, and I mean, it's not like the racism and everything has stopped either. I mean one of the stories here that we have here and we're done, is a man who was kicked out of a bar and and took it to court. That's one of the Supreme Court and he actually lost. So it's like one of the this is a negative part of the history and that was only in the s. So it's not like this is very better. You know, where where I'm from, in Southwester Ontario, there are many stories very much like that. It didn't go all the way to the supreme court necessarily, but there were many stories of people fighting against segregation and discrimination and using the press, using public opinion, shining a light on businesses and institutions and organizations that were denying them access, and I just give so much credit to those folks who had the courage to do that. Yeah, well, and in your case you are also doing your own podcast, which is kind of interesting, so you're sort of that makes you part of the media these days. It's although your podcast is about writing, right. That's right. So for about the last fifteen years I've been per of bookfest Windsor, which is our local literary festival hearing wins or, Ontario, and through that I made some really excellent friends who are also just just as excited about literature as I am. And so with two of those friends, Sarah Jarvis, our longtime chair of bookfest Windsor, and Kim Conklin, another planning committee member, we set up back in two thousand and nineteen a podcast called all right, in Sin City write, and it focuses on writers and writing in the Detroit River region, including both sides of the border, because we really in this part of the country see ourselves as a transnational community that's on both sides of the Detroit River. We're a lot more like people in Metro Detroit than we are like people in...

Toronto or Ottawa, for example, or Montreal. So we have a tendency to have this wonderful cross boarder culture in terms of the arts, seeing the literary scene, the music scene and so on. And so we formed this podcast and we focus on writers from both Canada and the US who are part of this region and and all of the great books and poems and plays and things that they're publishing, and we're just so excited to to shine a light on that because there have been in the past a lot of instruments and media that focused on either the Detroit side of the writing or the winds or side of the writing, but never together as a whole. The Sin city part of our title relates to are very interesting regional history when both Detroit, meture Detroit and the Windsor Region were known as Sin City due to our prohibition era activities and you know our our general scandalousness were a scandal written cross border community in many ways and we love it. So we have capitalized and are celebrating what you all can really relate to, that part of your history to I think, and what's interesting about about that whole the cross cultural thing. I sort of got a taste of that because my first book was about Canadian Vietnam Veterans and there is a very important wall in Windsor and walking through I was astonished in that Park How many symbols there are linking communities on both sides of the border. There's something you know brownies and you know everything you can think of in terms of a community and what they do. There is some sort of monument to it in that the in Ambassador Park absolutely, and I mean to that point in terms of our original topic, the underground railroad history. That's so true. I mean the underground railroad would have never been as successful as it was had people on both sides of this Detroit River region not wanted to collaborate, work together, send messages about how many folks were arriving, how to find them, where to pick them up, how to get them to safety, how to help them settle. You know, the the joint fundraising that happened across, you know, both sides of the border to you help refugees from American slavery settle, all of the things that happen, to form cross boarder organizations to keep them safe, vigilance communities and things of that nature. And to this day we have in Windsor and Detroit to the world's only international monument to the underground railroad, which is literally two separate monuments on either side of the river, designed by the same sculpture and white. There's the tower of freedom here in Windsor there's the gateway to freedom in downtown Detroit. They're part of the Vine National Monument and together they tell the story of the underground railroad. And you know, that's just one of those fascinating things about this place. We really do refer to and embrace one another across both sides of the river very much. Yeah, I know, it's a really it's a fascinating place and it's a I mean what's interesting about the connections that you make with some of the communities is that it really is shows how an ecosystem works, you know, as a circle around where you are not Necessari you know, there are no borders and if you go system yeah, that's right. So, but can you tell me a little bit more about about your own projects, because I think it's really fascinating. Like I'm looking at the you know, you just send me. Oh, you know, there's there's a couple of things and and you really are you're a very knowledgeable person when it comes to all sorts of regions in the country. For example, the foe historical plaques in Toronto, which I didn't even know anything about that. My family's does not that far out of thought of Toronto too, so I'm surprised I didn't hear about it. Yeah, I mean that was a fascinating thing that happened in the summer of two thousand and twenty. So back...

...in June when the media we're kind of seizing upon black narratives and, you know, stories connected to the black community, someone from CBC locally reached out to me and said Hey, I mean can you do an interview talking about the history of slave ownership in Windsor in Essex County, and I said sure, free in like half an hour, and I said sure. So I was sitting on my deck and I did this interview about the history of slave owning families here in Windsor and Essex County and how we have many street names and place names and public buildings and things that are named after these slave owning families who are considered some of the founding families of Windsor in Essex County, and they did engage in a lot of really admirable exploits, but they also gained a great deal of wealth on the backs of their enslaved African and indigenous people who were living with them against their will in captivity and doing all of this work. So, as part of that CBC store worry, I said something to the effect of you know, who we lift up and who we name things after who we recognize, who we value, says a lot about what we value in what we hold dear in our society. And I was saying that in reference to these street names and place names and parks and places that are named after these slaveholding families. So, because of the Times in which we were living, that story kind of went viral and people were learning a lot more about slave ownership in the history of slavery in Canada and someone in Toronto saw that CBC piece and picked up on it and started doing some research on slaveholding families in the Toronto area and before I knew it I started hearing from people that I know in Toronto saying, Hey, do you know that you're quoted on these plaques around I said what? And it was true. People started to send me pictures in a neighborhood of Toronto, Pretty Nice neighborhood, called Bobby Point, although they call it babby point, named after the Bobby family, who were also slave owners here in Windsor. They also have slaves in Toronto and they were quite a wealthy family and very involved in the military and and government, and so this neighborhood is named after the Bobby family. And so someone had started placing these foe historical plaques around that name Eighood, saying this is the true history of the Bobby family and their slave ownership in the late eighteen and early nineteen century. Then someone pointed out to me that there was another plaque, another set of plaques, quoting me on Jarvis Street in Toronto regarding William Jarvis and and the Jarvis Families History of slave ownership. And they both had the same quote from my CDC article and my name at the bottom, so that there were people who thought that I was putting up these. And I said, listen, if I were going to be a black history bank see and start putting up plaques gorilla style, I certainly would not implicate myself by naming myself on the that's a little bit bizarre. I've seen enough crime, you know, crime, criminal investigation shows, to know that you do that anyway. So I mean the person. I have to say the person was putting up these really beautiful temporary foe plaques that look a lot like real historic plaques that actually had footnotes. And then I mean amazing historical plaques. Never at footnotes for the notes. That all good. This person was doing that. Yeah, and and so and so. This person was putting them up without authorization and that was kind of part of the problem. But they were doing it to prove a point that we don't know enough about these streets and places and the folks after whom they're named. And subsequently the person also put up some plaques about Peter Russell, who was another...

...pretty heinous slave owner from the Toronto area and who, incidentally, also named a couple of streets after himself when he came down here to sandwich to to buy the land and set it up as a town for United Empire loyalists. So through that there was this really interesting thing that emerged, which was all of these media folks reaching out saying what do you know about this person, when us, no, I didn't know anything. I was just I was amazed. So I used social media myself to say, Hey, if you're the person that's doing this, please reach out to me privately, and I'd love to be in such but I mean that that that tweet of mine that was asking for someone to come forward and just message me directly got something like six thousand retweets, which for me is a lot. I'm not a celebrity? Yeah, Oh, you are, no, apparently, at least in Toronto. So it's been really interesting. I mean, I do now know who the individual is. The individual did eventually come forward and I will not name them, but it's a person who is conscientious, who wants to write the historical wrongs and make sure that the true narratives are out there. It's a person who's not of African descent, I will say, but who loves history and just thought that this was an interesting project to bring a toench into the real stories of some of these families that are considered the founding families. And and so now, certainly simultaneously, there are lots of conversations happening around Canada around contested memory and whether we should have monuments to people who were slave owners, whether we should have streets named after them, are towns named after them or or what have you. And and I think this person has given a little bit of extra esteem or a little bit of an extra push to those conversations. And I'm happy to say that the folks who are, you know, the Neighborhood Association of the Bobby Point area in Toronto have themselves approached Toronto City Hall and are working with them directly to try to create some permanent plaques that are about the real history of that name. So that's a great out Oh, isn't that a fabulous outcome? What's your opinion about that? Because I actually love the idea of adding plaques so that you could have a very con you know, contextual background to people. You know they weren't just good, they weren't just bad, but they were mixed and especially when you have such a prominent, you know, a family that has has benefited from the prominence for so long, I mean those are the ones that you need to actually mark out. That's my opinion, but I don't know, what do you think? You're much more in the in this issue when you've been thinking about it very deeply. What's your opinion about what we have about the day? Yeah, I mean I have to say that where someone has engaged in actual Genosi or something of that nature, we do not want to lift up those names. So I completely understand that there are people who no longer want to have statutes to confederate generals or I understand that there are people who have real concerns about Johnny McDonald and his treatment of indigenous peoples, and those are important conversations for those individuals in those communities to have. To me, in my mind, and what I've said to the media as well, is that if there is a street named after a founding family that did a bunch of good stuff but also had enslaved individuals, we neither want to erase the history by getting rid of those names nor sweep the bad stuff under the carpet. So to whatever extent we can add to the signage, add to the storytelling make sure that people have a more complex and comprehensive understanding, I think that's a good thing to do. And so down here in Windsor Ontario, what I'm doing right now, and what our history society is doing right now, is we're working with the city of Windsor to add some signage to those...

...street signs, you know, on those polls where the street signs are, and especially at major intersections, to tell more of the story and also to include a Qr Code that people can scan with their cell phone that will take them to the website that gives them much deeper history of those families, because they did do good stuff. I mean that's why they're considered the founding of families and at the same time time we can't ignore in our present day the really heinous things that they did, all of the buying and selling and capturing of these, you know, indigenous and African enslaved people and and, frankly, abuse. I think about a street here in Windsor called Labadie. One of my very best friends lives on that street. I don't really want her to have to change her address. But and I also I know some people who are descendants of the Labbati family. But notwithstanding all of that, Labadi was an important individual in our local history and there's no denying it. And at the same time, labaty owned all of these enslaved people and in his will he specified that his wife should his widow should get to keep her two favorite slaves and that the rest should be divided up and and the proceeds divided among the children. And what's really sad about that is those were families, those were intact families that he was saying in his will he wanted to split up and sell off so that his kids could split the the revenues. Did he actually and I mean that's use he was splitting up. Oh absolutely. I mean that's one thing about the pretty comprehensive records that we have. I've been slaved individuals in this region. At least we do know their names. We know their names and meant often times we know their ages. Oftentimes we know who was, you know, the parents of what other enslaved individual individuals. Often the often the enslaves were the godparents when the enslaved kids would be baptized at our local churches, some of which are still around. So I mean there are a lot of records and it is very sad when we see, you know, you can follow certain individuals and see how they're sold from one family to the next, how they're suddenly yanked out of Windsor and taken to Toronto and and they leave their loved ones behind. And so people who say it was, you know, it was a much nicer form of slavery here. It was not that big a deal. It was a big deal. It was about family separation, it was about trauma. Matthew Elliott was a major slave owner here in Essex County, Ontario and what's now known as Amherstburg, and he had as many as sixty and slave people on his property and there's actually a whipping ring. There's a ring that is in the possession in the collection of the Amhersburg Freedom Museum today, which is from Matthew Elliott's property and where he would tie slaves up. was called the bloody whipping tree. I mean that was in the late eighteen early nineteen century here, about half an hour from where I'm doing this interview now. And people who think that Canadian slavery wasn't that big a deal or wasn't that bad, do you need to do some investigation and realize that it was a rather harsh condition that these individuals were when you're yeah, well, when when people get when people have power over other individuals, there's going to be some abuse, for sure. I mean it's you curs. You don't have authority without abuse in some in some circumstances. So Oh, absolutely, and that's true of human trafficking today and all kinds of things of that nature. But one of the reasons why we have a tendency not to pay attention to our slave owning history in this country is that we love to see ourselves nationally in opposition to the United States and we love to think that we're better, that we're superior. We love to focus on our underground railroad history and how we were a safe haven and we like to set aside those things that don't fit that narrative. Is Neatly, but it's important to know all of this history. Yeah, well, I remember when the when it was discovered that Marguerite Bourgeois, who is one of the founders of Montreal, had slaves and brought them and then what...

...was what's really horrible, is most of the history does not say what their names are. Still have any found out with their names are yet? Yeah, there's a lot of work to be done there, if it can be done. Yeah, I know it's it's so in one of the things that you also do, besides your dedication and time that you spend on history, is you're also a fanatic for words and poems and literature. Can you talk a little bit about that before we before I ask you the final question that I was going to ask you? Yeah, for sure. I mean, I do love I love poetry, I love literature, I love writing and, honest sleep, if you were to look purely at my credentials, I am an English teacher who took some history courses along the way and always loved history, but my master's is an English I've always been an English teacher primarily and I love it. I do love to write poetry that reflects the black Canadian experience, but not all of it does. Sometimes it's just about life and you know, it could be related to anyone's life and I found, certainly during the pandemic, that when I was in my house for much longer periods of time than in to stated, I had a lot more time to focus on poetry, so that was a joy. I have published some poetry through the years and anthologies and journals, and I'm looking forward to doing more of that for sure in the future. It gives me a great joy and it's a great release and a nice way to switch off my brain. In terms of the other things that I did, I didn't ask you about because we've talked about some of your successes, but I forgot to ask you about a failure that meant something to you, where you really learned. Can you talk a little bit about something that you at the time seemed like a failure but now, with can be put into a different context? Yeah, you know what, I'm happy to talk about this. I have been for some time, for the last few years, working on a book called our own two hands, a history of black lives in windsor and sandwich from the seventeen hundreds forward, and I would say that, you know, in the early stages I was really beating myself up for not having met all of the deadlines that I kind of established for myself with respect to that project. I expected the book to be out by now, but I realized along the way that getting it right is more important than getting it done quickly, even though there's a willing, willing group of people waiting to receive it. I feel that, while I did fail to meet the original timelines that I set for myself, I think that it will work out better in the end that I've had this opportunity to be thorough and to get the details right and and to to write the book in a way that's readable and that people will want to you know, want to hold in their hands and want to really take those stories and rather than a lot of facts and numbers and data, what they'll get our stories of people to whom they can relate. So it's taking longer than I thought it would. But I guess it'll be worth it. Can you tell me, like how long, home much longer, and what kind of a book is it? Because it sounds a very ambitious. It is ambitious, but I'm really I'm enjoying the process. I am really looking forward to getting that out sometime in two thousand and twenty one, if I can, if not, early two thousand and twenty two would be my absolute goal, I think. For close to the end it said it's a project that was handed to me by a wonder full organization called the North Star Cultural Community Center here in Windsor, and I've been partnering with them to write this book and really enjoying all of the all of the things that I'm discovering. I certainly knew a lot about local black history before, but I've learned a lot more through this process, for sure. I started it in two thousand and sixteen...

...and I'm looking forward to being finished with the final revisions. Varies. Is it short stories is it is it fiction? Non Fiction? Would kind of give it our own two hands. Is actually a work of non fiction. It is a history book. It is a book about the history of black people in black communities in Windsor and Sandwich Ontario from the eighteen century to you about the s and it's really non fiction. I'm trying to share the history of this area, the history of individuals, key individuals, but also just of the communities and how people organized and the institutions that they built, the ways that they engaged in the struggle together, the achievements that they had, and I'm trying to write it in a way that's relatable and easy to read but that is completely historically accurate. So it's not fiction by any means. I do sometimes try to in the preamble to a certain chapter, imagine what someone was thinking as they were going through a certain situation or something of that nature, but all of the facts in it are true facts. It's a very heavily documented book. I feel like I've spent a year on end notes alone. It was fun, but it is something I'm really looking forward to getting out there and I think that people will find a lot of meaning in it once they're able to read it. So it's exciting that there are so many people in this community who are waiting for it and outside of this community and who are just, you know, encouraging me to finish it and get it out there and and I'm looking forward to that, that completion. Oh my goodness, the light at the end of the tunnel is visible, but it's slow getting here. I'm doing I'm working on us while I'm not actually at this particular moment. But one of the projects that I want, that I've started and sort of set aside because I'm finishing a different book at the moment, is a history of Canada in nonfiction stories, basically the same way that we did. The group of nine of US did a genealogy book, which was each one of us talking about different ancestors in order to talk about the history of Montreal a little bit. We ended up sort of changing it to a less historically it. We didn't go in narrative order in the end. We did it in theme, in thematic order instead. But the one that I want to do is done in narrative order and it's it sounds like I'll have to read your book to get some hints about how you did it, because it's not that easy to write nonfiction so that it reads like a narrative. Oh for sure it's not, and I mean it's it is really hard to figure out what goes with what and how to keep that strand of storytelling and storyline going and not to oversimplify it, because there are always complications and you know, there's always so much we could include. You know, a book about a black community that's over two hundred years old could be three thousand pages. But you know, we have to be realistic and we have to know what to include, what not to include and how to keep it readables. And how are you publishing it? Are you going to self publish it? Are you going to put it on Cobo? And you know what you're going to do for publishing. That is as yet undetermined. There have been some discussions with presses, but I'm really looking forward to having a completed manuscript that I can share with them and and looking forward to seeing what they say. I do think that in this climate there's a lot of interest in black Canadian stories. That's one positive thing that has come out of, you know, the frankly horrific times we're living and in many ways and I think that there are just there's an interest in stories that are are underrepresented and not told as often or as well as they should be. And I know there have been a lot of books over the years that are written from a scholarly point of view, that are for kind of academic audiences to read and share, and there have been books for children, but there's not been a lot...

...in that middle ground that's just for an average person to read, to pick up and to learn about a community or a group of people, such as the Black Canadians, and I'd really like to fill that gap to whatever extent I can. Yeah, well, and it's a that particular era in in in our history has been so underrepresentative in in history classes and everything too. So if you do a good job, hopefully it will turn into, you know, one of the novels are one of the text that they can read in schools, that they won't bore them to tears. I hope so, you know, because history of Canadian history is so fascinating, but you wouldn't know it when you read textbooks. Sometimes you were absolutely right, and I mean it's been a long time since I was in the KA twelve situation, but I remember learning about history and unless we had very gifted teachers who really took it upon themselves to make it interesting, it was a whole lot of battles and famous white guys and not very much about ordinary people, working class people, people from various ethnic vault backgrounds, not just, you know, from racialized communities, but, you know, eastern Europeans and and all kinds of the people that have made up this country. We just didn't hear a lot about them. I mean, I feel we learned about the same things again and again, and of everything else too. Yes, like the women didn't do anything. Yes, you would. You would think that. You know, until there was this royal lady on our money, there was like nobody of female agree on that was doing anything worthwhile in this country, and so it's really it's exciting to see so much more work being done by historians that are uncovering those stories. Those stories have always been around and there have always been people that knew about them, but they haven't necessarily made it into the public psyche or really been shared in a way that people can access. So it's great to see so much more work being done to create these relatable narratives about these real life people. Yeah, well, and those are the people that we're all related to ourselves. So it's nice to actually know what our ancestors were doing and what kind of you know, the country that we have now is is based on so many accidents and decisions and choices made by people before us, and so it's nice to know what what they were facing, you know. I mean until we had this pandemic, it was hard to imagine what it would be like to be in a crisis for a long period of time. You know, all the and and why that took away like so much energy from people. You know, that's a very good point that you make. It's true. I mean, I know I've always said, Gee, I didn't live through anything or shattering or I didn't live draining global events per se. You know, other than nine o who you have. Know, yes, here we are and one day will be the ones. One day will be the ones that they write about. You know how, yeah, the Canadians of this era survived. Yeah, it well, just because I've been writing about I'm working on a World War Two book and so many of the documents talk about how they thought it was going to be over in six months and I thought, you know, how could they think that it was? It's so obvious, looking in back, that it was going to be a long duration. But I mean being that now too. It's true. It's amazing what you can believe when you're in a crisis. If you know, if you work hard enough, you should be it should be over right away. You know, it's true. I remember in the lockdown in mid March, heading home, when we were all sent home from our college, and thinking, well, I'm going to be back around me, I'll just leave me all fun that we all thought it was going to be an eight week duration, stay at home and then the virus, as soon as it heats up at the virus will be gone. And I mean...

...even though we could see that Italy and Brazil and all these hot places had it. Absolutely not the heat. I don't know anyway, but I should ask you. Obviously this is a story, this is a podcast about unapologetically Canadian. So my last question is always actually, before I get to the last question, was there's something that you wanted to talk about that I didn't ask you about? No, not really. So are you? Do you consider yourself a Canadian and, if so, what does that mean to you? I absolutely consider myself a Canadian. I have to answer this from the point of view of someone who's been doing a lot of diversity and clusion training lately to certainly I've done a lot of that over the summer and fall, and one of the one of the curious questions that people of African descent in this country get asked all the time is where are you from? And even when it comes from a place of, you know, positivity and curiosity, it can take on the characteristics of a microaggression, especially when it's heard again and again, as though our very being is being questions like why are you here? Where do you belong? Clearly you don't belong here. But what I always what I've always known since I was born, is that I and my family are very much a part of this country. My ancestors came to Canada as early as the S. by the s all of my mother's ancestral families were here in southwestern Ontario. My great great, great great grandfather, Abraham Doris Shad, was the first black man elected to political office and Canada. My great great great great aunt, Mary Anne Shad was the first woman to publish a newspaper in Canada, the first black woman to do so in North America. I mean there's just this whole history around my family and they actually walked these streets and lived here in southwestern Ontario and we're doing things right in the city where I live. So I definitely feel very Canadian and at the same time I am conscious of the fact that my father came here in the s from the Caribbean and is just as much a Canadian too. And and we have these wonderful complex history is all of us in terms of when our folks arrived or when we ourselves arrived. And I think that Canadian is a state of mind above all. It's not just about loungevity, although I have that, but it's about a state of mind and just your commitment to making this place better, and that's how I perceive my identity as a Canadian. What a wonderful what a wonderful description and it certainly is very inclusive. Thank you very much. I mean, I really love to speaking with you. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you for listening to an apologetically Canadian. Please consider supporting our podcast Fort UN hundred and ninety nine a month. Join select listeners and get additional episodes every month.

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